August 5, 2021

Why aren’t Bale & Ramos playing for Real Madrid vs Man City in the Champions League?

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The star duo will not be available for the decisive match against Pep Guardiola’s side along with a number of others

Real Madrid will attempt to overturn a narrow deficit when they face Manchester City in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, but they must do so without some of their best players.

Gareth Bale will play no part in the match after being left out of the 24-man squad and Zinedine Zidane explained that the Wales international did not wish to play at the Etihad Stadium.

“I will explain because many things are said,” the frustrated Real Madrid boss told reporters in a news conference ahead of the second leg.

“We have a relationship of respect between player and coach, that is clear. The only thing I can say is that he has decided not to play, and the rest is between him and me.”

Bale’s future has been a consistent source of speculation in recent months, but, though the signs suggest an imminent exit, his agent insists that the winger is content to stay in the Spanish capital.

Sergio Ramos is also set to miss the crucial game against Pep Guardiola’s side on Friday because he was shown a red card in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu back in February, when Madrid lost 2-1.

Referee Daniele Orsato brandished a straight red card in the closing stages of the game when he deemed that Ramos committed a foul on Gabriel Jesus as the Brazilian striker raced through on goal.

Having capitalised on Casemiro’s weak pass to Raphael Varane, Jesus found himself bearing down on Thibaut Courtois, but hit the deck after Ramos touched his shoulder just outside the 18-yard box.

The centre-back was subsequently sent off, equalling a Champions League record in the process as he joined Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edgar Davids on ill-discipline row with four red cards in the competition.

It was a controversial decision given the nature of the foul, with former Man City goalkeeper Joe Hart expressing reservations about Jesus’ conduct.

“I honestly don’t think that’s a foul or red card,” Hart told BT Sport after the game. “Jesus waits for him to touch his shoulder. Worst case scenario for Jesus is a yellow card [for diving].

“Best case is he’s got Real Madrid’s captain, leader, legend out of the second leg.”

Ramos’ foul did prevent City from scoring a third away goal, meaning that the second leg remains delicately poised ahead of the meeting in England.

However, the trade-off – with the Spain international missing the game – is not necessarily worth it according to former Real Madrid boss Fabio Capello, who believes Ramos’ absence will be pivotal.

“The problem when you play City is how well can you defend against them?” Capello told Laureus in the lead-up to the second leg.

“So I think, for me, I prefer Man City, because without Sergio Ramos, when you have to defend against City going forward, it will be difficult for Real.”

While Ramos will not feature in the game, he was named in the 24-man squad and travelled to Manchester in order to lend moral support to his team-mates. 

Which other players will miss the Man City vs Real Madrid game?

Another notable absentee for Real Madrid is James Rodriguez, while striker Mariano Diaz has been left out of the Madrid squad as a health precaution after testing positive for Covid-19 at the end of July.

There are some concerns over the fitness of Marcelo and Eden Hazard, but both players could feature after being named in Madrid’s travelling party.

The main Man City absentee is Sergio Aguero, who suffered a knee injury in a game against Burnley in June. Pep Guardiola revealed that the Argentine is “getting better”, but he will not play a part against Madrid.

Benjamin Mendy will also miss the game against Real through suspension after picking up three yellow cards.