Xabi Alonso’s burst eardrum forced him off the pitch at half-time of Real Madrid’s win over Celta Vigo.
Alonso suffered the injury on December 22 against Valencia and played in Madrid’s friendly with Paris Saint-Germain earlier in January without a problem.
But the noise generated by the Santiago Bernabeu crowd was more than that of the 50,000 spectators at the Khalifa Stadium – which is also a more open arena, allowing the noise to escape.
Madrid’s home stadium sees the crowd much closer to the pitch and has steeper sides than the ground in Qatar and Alonso was so affected by it he had to be withdrawn.
The former Liverpool midfielder is in training with his teammates but covers his ear with cotton wool as a precaution – a measure he is unable to take during matches.
Dr. Nicholas Meana of the University Hospital in Bilbao explained that the burst eardrum is likely to have healed but Alonso will need time to get used to the sensation.
“He might have affected the nerve and thus assimilates noise differently,” Dr. Meana suggested.
“Especially in a stadium with 80,000 fans. It’s a matter of adaptation to compensate for the hearing of the ear.”