Pepe's Injury Would Be a Huge Blow for Real Madrid's La Decima Hopes

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2014

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Pepe is a divisive character but few would refuse to recognise the excellent season he has enjoyed.

If he is missing for the Champions League final in Lisbon through injury, it would be a big blow to Real Madrid's La Decima aspirations.

The Portugal centre-back has, alongside Sergio Ramos, had a strong year for Los Blancos.

While at times he has failed to keep the more dislikeable aspects of his in-match character in check,

Carlo Ancelotti has found a way to harness his defensive power.

Carlo Ancelotti would miss Pepe.
Carlo Ancelotti would miss Pepe.Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

During the disappointing 1-1 draw at Valladolid Pepe picked up an injury.

He left the stadium with his left calf bandaged and will undergo an MRI scan on Friday.

As per Inside Spanish Football, initial examinations seemed to indicate he had sustained a tear, which, if proven true, would keep him out of the rest of the season.

While that would be bad news for Madrid as far as La Liga goes, it would be a worse blow in their bid to win their 10th top European title.

Real Madrid play Celta Vigo and then Espanyol in their last two La Liga games, which they must win to have any hope of lifting the title.

Although neither match will be easy, they should be able to cope without Pepe.

However, in the Champions League final against city rivals Atletico Madrid, Pepe could be crucial.

Diego Costa has been one of the finest forwards around this season, and is the third top scorer in La Liga with 27, one behind Lionel Messi and four off Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, he has a tendency to get hot under the collar.

Diego Costa was given a torrid time by Pepe.
Diego Costa was given a torrid time by Pepe.Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

Pepe is an artist when it comes to winding up opponents and causing them to lose their cool.

Along with Alvaro Arbeloa, Pepe tortured Costa during the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, which Real won 3-0.

Costa was given rough treatment by the Real Madrid defenders and left the game frustrated, battered and bruised.

The man who would replace Pepe if he is injured is French youngster Raphael Varane.

Most would say he holds himself with more class than Pepe but is less experienced.

Raphael Varane is the natural replacement.
Raphael Varane is the natural replacement.Gabriel Pecot/Associated Press

Varane played ahead of Pepe, who was rested, in the clash against Valencia last week and made a crucial error.

Jeremy Mathieu snuck in ahead of him and headed home for the hosts to dent Real's title challenge.

Costa would fancy his chances against Varane, who has missed much of the season due to injury, and the form of Pepe and Ramos together.

Varane was rested for the visit to Valladolid on Wednesday as a precaution.

He told Le Figaro, h/t Inside Spanish Football:

There have been a lot of things said about my knee, jokes about the operation not going well, but the situation is clear: I was in good hands, those of Dr Herve Silbert. At the level of the joint, everything is fine and I have no doubts about my knee.

Real Madrid will hope that is the case, because they might be relying on Varane to help get them over the line in Lisbon.