Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao will end 2021 in what promises to be an entertaining game in Athletic’s San Mames Stadium on Wednesday night — if the Covid-19 pandemic allows.
Real Madrid last week confirmed six positive cases among players — Marco Asensio, Luka Modric, Rodrygo, Andriy Lunin, Gareth Bale and Marcelo — while assistant coach Davide Ancelotti is also infected with the virus. Additionally, Isco is reported to have cold-like symptoms and David Alaba didn’t train on Tuesday due to fears he could be infected too.
Athletic lost Spain international duo Inigo Martinez and Unai Simon to the virus before their weekend win at home to Real Betis, and on Monday the club reported two more cases with reserve keeper Jokin Ezkieta and winger Alex Berenguer both testing positive.
Both clubs are keeping their fingers crossed that no more cases are reported before Wednesday’s game, but further absences can’t be ruled out.
It seems ironic that the game is expected to go ahead, while the scheduled game in October between the two was postponed when Real Madrid had four South American players returning late from international duty, reports Xinhua.
That game was eventually played just three weeks ago, with Real Madrid winning 1-0 in the Santiago Bernabeu.
As well as the Covid-19 cases, Real Madrid are without the injured Dani Carvajal, while Casemiro is suspended after completing a cycle of bookings following his horrendous challenge against Cadiz’s Ivi Alejo on Sunday.
Athletic also have Yuri Berchiche, Dani Vivian, Peru Nosakolain and Asier Villalibre out through injury and any more absences would stretch a side that will have B-team keeper Julen Agirrezabala in goal again, with B-team reserve Ander Iru as backup.