Injuries to starting centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Pepe are not the only absences Zinedine Zidane will have to deal with, as the French boss will be without Toni Kroos for the next two months, and a new midfield trio will have to step up in the German’s absence.
With difficult matches against Atletico Madrid and then Barcelona ahead, there will be little time for the trio to get used to playing with each other before such high-intensity and high-profile clashes.
First Casemiro and then Luka Modric fell, and now Kroos is the latest casualty, breaking his right foot.
Here are the three main options for Zidane to replace such a key player:
1. The most logical midfield three: Modric, Kovacic, Isco
Until Casemiro’s return, Zidane could keep playing Mateo Kovacic and Isco, with Luka Modric having returned. With Modric and Kovacic in a double pivot, Isco could then have the freedom he needs as a No. 10.
2. Trying something new: Vazquez, Modric, Kovacic
Normally a winger, Lucas Vazquez has shown an uncanny ability to adapt, quick in possession and able to combine runs from midfield with more associative play.
3. Most attacking option: Modric, James Rodriguez, Isco/Asensio
After already experimenting by playing Alvaro Morata and BBC at the same time, perhaps this is the least likely of the three possibilities. With Modric as the sole pivot, any two of Isco, James Rodriguez and Lucas Vazquez could compose an attack-minded midfield if Zidane so chooses.