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Real Madrid news: Pepe expected to miss the game against Real Betis

943   //    12 Mar 2017, 22:43 IST
NAPLES, ITALY - MARCH 07:  Pepe of Real Madrid CF  during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between SSC Napoli and Real Madrid CF at Stadio San Paolo on March 7, 2017 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)
Pepe’s 2016-17 season has been plagued by numerous injuries

What’s the story?

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is set to welcome Real Betis on Sunday in what remains a critical game in his side’s pursuit of table-toppers Barcelona. However, the Frenchman is expected to have a problem on his hands as Pepe, one of the star defenders of this Real Madrid side, is expected to miss the game owing to an injury.

According to the reports from Marca, the Portuguese player was not able to take part in his side’s training on Saturday and is expected to remain out of contention for the game against Betis.

In case you didn’t know...

Pepe, who joined Real Madrid in July 2007 after impressing for the Portuguese giants Porto in a deal believed to be in the region of €30 million, has been a constant feature in the Los Blancos’ defence over the years. 

However, recent years have seen him struggle with injuries and that has frustrated the player as well as the fans. The 34-year-old has made just 11 league appearances this season and with his contract expiring at the end of the current season, it remains to be seen if Madrid will offer him an extension to his current contract.

The heart of the matter

The player, who was sidelined due to a calf injury in December, made his return to the Real Madrid side in February after having missed first team action for 47 days. During the time he was sidelined, the defender missed eight crucial games and it was only on the 4th of February when he made his first appearance of 2017 in a UEFA Champions League tie against Napoli.

While the player completed Friday’s training session without any apparent unease, he spent Saturday in the gym, and did not take part in the training session. In Pepe’s absence, it is largely expected that Nacho will line up alongside club captain Sergio Ramos at the heart of the Real Madrid defence.

What’s next?

Zidane is set to be light on defenders during the game against the Beticos, as Fabio Coentrao and Raphael Varane, too, are expected to miss the game due to their respective injuries. To add to the Frenchman’s woes, Gareth Bale will miss out as well as he is set to serve the 2nd of his two-match ban as a result of his sending off against UD Las Palmas.

Sportskeeda’s Take

Real Madrid have been stuttering of late losing to Valencia and drawing with Las Palmas, however, back-to-back wins against Eibar and Napoli have helped them remain in contention for the top prizes in Spain as well as Europe.

The side, which sits behind Barcelona by a mere point with two games in hand, will be keen to ensure they come out victorious to leapfrog the Catalan giants to the top of the table.  

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