Real Madrid’s defence is finally starting to look settled for the final stage of the season, albeit not impregnable. That is in part down to the absences suffered by Carlo Ancelotti. In particular, David Alaba has barely been fit since the World Cup.
According to Diario AS, only once before has he missed more games through injury than this. That was in 2014-1 when he had surgery for a partially torn ligament.
Since the World Cup, a calf injury, following by a thigh tear against Liverpool have limited Alaba to just 8 appearances.
Last season he played 81% of the available minutes for Carlo Ancelotti, as a regular in the side next to Eder Militao. That figure has dropped to 56% this season, 11th in terms of the Real Madrid squad.
It has fored Antonio Rudiger to deputise for much of 2023. At this stage last season in La Liga, Real Madrid had scored one more goal, conceded one less, and were four points better off – which was enough for a six-point lead over Sevilla at the time.
While those numbers show there isn’t a vast difference, the on-pitch evidence has seen Rudiger criticised heavily until recent weeks as he gradually adapts to life alongside Militao.
It should also be noted that Ferland Mendy has been absent for much of 2023 too, with his own muscle tear causing that absence. Nacho Fernandez or Eduardo Camavinga have replaced Mendy, which in many eyes has been an improvement too.