Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 30
An official announcement on the club's website listed the 20-man squad:
REAL MADRID SQUAD:
Goalkeepers: Casillas, Keylor Navas and Pacheco.
Defenders: Varane, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, Carvajal, Arbeloa and Nacho.
Midfielders: Kroos, James, Bale, Modric, Isco, Illarra and Medrán.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema and Chicharito.
Updates from Friday, Sept. 26
Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed Pepe will miss Real Madrid's clash with Villarreal this weekend.
Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC provided the latest:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Ancelotti: “Pepe is not yet available, neither is Coentrao. They are two who cannot play tomorrow.”9/26/2014, 1:12:11 PM
Updates from Thursday, Sept. 25
Pepe is expected to be absent once again for Real Madrid when they travel to Villarreal this weekend.
AS reports the following:
AS English @English_AS
Pepe and Coentrão absent from Madrid training on Thursday and considered doubts for trip to Villarreal.9/25/2014, 11:39:07 AM
Updates from Monday, Sept. 22
Real Madrid centre-back Pepe will remain on the sidelines when Elche visit the capital on Tuesday.
Carlo Ancelotti confirmed at Monday's press conference:
Real Madrid C.F. @realmadriden
.@MrAncelotti: "Pepe hasn't recovered yet. We will see if Ramos is OK tomorrow. He has a problem with his foot, but should recovery quickly"9/22/2014, 10:36:37 AM
Real Madrid's already shaky defence has received a minor blow after Portuguese centre-back Pepe succumbed to a muscle problem. The 31-year-old will now miss Los Blancos' tricky away game against Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti detailed Pepe's injury via a Reuters report (h/t the Mail Online): "The player we won't have is Pepe, who is suffering from muscle fatigue."
The report also indicated that Pepe's place will be taken by young French central defender Raphael Varane. That's why Pepe's loss needn't be a particularly damaging blow for Madrid.
Pepe offers experience and an uncompromising streak fierce enough to make any attacker cringe. However, he has also been part of a defence that has been breached in each of Los Merengues' last three matches.
Real have surrendered seven goals in that time, making improvement at the back a necessity. Budding young star Varane can key that improvement, despite not getting regular playing time.
But that hasn't stopped the club from tying the young France international down to a new deal, according to the team's official Twitter feed:
Real Madrid C.F. @realmadriden
Real Madrid C. F. has extended @raphaelvarane's contract with the club until 30 June 2020 #HalaMadrid http://t.co/xCm3VpKLdA9/18/2014, 2:46:53 PM
That's proof that Madrid are committed to protecting one of their future stars from the reach of other clubs, per Sky Sports:
The 21-year-old France international moved to the Bernabeu from Lens in 2011, initially signing a six-year deal.
Since then, he has made 74 appearances and caught the eye of several other leading clubs, among them Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, but appears to have snubbed all interest by adding another three years to his existing contract.
Even though he usually relies on rugged veteran pairing Pepe and Sergio Ramos, Ancelotti recently endorsed Varane's importance, per RealMadrid.com reporter Javier Garcia: "He is a Real Madrid player, he is young and we need him. If he is going through a difficult time, we will help him. I always say that we have Ramos and Pepe, who are two of the best defenders in the world."
Varane will have to seize what will probably be a limited chance to impress. Muscle fatigue sounds as though Pepe's ageing legs are being rested ahead of a La Liga tilt, putting Madrid in action twice in four days.
Ancelotti's men will host Elche after their trip to Coruna. Pepe's long-term fitness status should be clearer by then.