The FIFA virus has struck again—this time attacking Real Madrid's defense.
Marcelo is facing a three-month layoff after sustaining a broken metatarsal. The left back was injured in training while on international duty with Brazil.
While this is not quite on the level of losing Cristiano Ronaldo, the loss of Marcelo will certainly impact the team, especially in the immediate future.
If only Marcelo had been injured during the international break, Real Madrid would miss him, but they wouldn't really be in much trouble over the coming weeks.
Fabio Coentrao is an equally talented—and more balanced—left back who is more than capable of filling the Brazilian's shoes.
Unfortunately for Los Merengues, Coentrao also suffered an injury. In Portugal's loss to Russia, the left back went down with a groin injury and had to be subbed off after just 20 minutes.
Losing Marceloa is bad, but losing Coentrao as well puts the team near panic mode. This goes without mentioning the slight injuries to Sergio Ramos and Sami Khedira.
Tests are still being done on the Portuguese fullback, so it is not yet known exactly how much time he'll miss.
Madridistas really hope Coentrao doesn't miss much time, because if he does, it could cost Real big time.
The league schedule is not very difficult on paper, but the Champions League fixtures in the next three months—the time Marcelo is expected to miss—present a potential problem for Madrid if both left backs are out.
The biggest concern is the match against Borussia Dortmund on October 24. If Jose Mourinho does not have either left back to start against the likes of Marco Reus and Mario Goetze, his defense could struggle.
How big a loss is Marcelo?
The second match against the Germans on November 6 could also be a problem for Coentrao, since groin injuries could linger or get re-injured easily.
Domestically, Madrid should only be at risk of dropping points to Atletico Madrid, Malaga, Betis, and Athletic Bilbao—assuming Marcelo is back by the break.
If they have Coentrao by at least the Bilbao fixture on November 18, the rest of the defense can be adjusted well enough to account for Marcelo's absence.
If Coentrao's injury turns out to be a serious one, Jose Mourinho will have a problem on defense.
There is no other true left back on the team, and the best option is a huge downgrade from both Marcelo and Coentrao.
What we would likely see in that case—and will probably see next weekend against Celta Vigo with both players almost certain to be unfit—is Alvaro Arbeloa playing on the other flank.
The right back has played there before for Spain at the club level and presents the best option. Sergio Ramos would then slot out right, a position he is obviously comfortable playing.
Raphael Varane would then battle Raul Albiol for the right to play alongside Pepe. The young Frenchman would likely be favored.
A back line of Ramos, Varane, Pepe, and Arbeloa is still very solid, and Mourinho could do far worse. Still, the left flank is vulnerable, and teams with great speed and passing out right will certainly target Arbeloa.
Celta Vigo and Mallorca have been solid this season, but neither really has the speed out right to exploit the Spaniard. Any dropped points to those two teams could not fairly be blamed on injuries.
So overall, fans should hope Coentrao's injury is not serious so that they will have one of their world-class left backs available for at least the second Dortmund match as well as one of their big La Liga matches.