Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane is set to be on the sidelines for a while after suffering a "grade-two muscle strain in his left hamstring" during Wednesday's 2-1 defeat to Valencia. His absences could also mean a blow for Los Blancos in their intense La Liga title race with Barcelona while the France international is expected to miss the Champions League crucial tie with Napoli on 7 March.
Varane, 23, was replaced by Nacho Fernandez in the 73rd minute of the game against Valencia after his shaky performance, being at fault in the two goals scored by Simone Zaza and Fabian Orellana in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Zidane later revealed that the centre-back had been forced off due to an injury, and that his poor performance had nothing to do with the substitution.
"Varane has picked up an injury, he felt some discomfort and that's why we brought him off," Zidane said in the press conference after Real Madrid missed an opportunity to increase their lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga table. "We lacked focus when we weren't in possession.
"Zaza hurt us in that role between the lines. A poor piece of control and they were capable of posing us problems. Such is the way in football, the season is a very long one but we've got to be more alert."
Real Madrid have now confirmed the worst fears for the fans after a scan on Friday confirmed the blow.
"Following tests carried out today on Raphael Varane at the Sanitas La Moraleja University Hospital, he has been diagnosed with a grade-two muscle strain in his left hamstring. His recovery will continue to be assessed," Real Madrid have confirmed though an official statement.
The Champions League winners have not set a time frame for Varane's return to action but reports in Spain suggest that he will be out of action for between four to six weeks.
The news is a blow for Zinedine Zidane ahead of a crucial month in which Real Madrid has options to fight for both the Champions League and La Liga.
Yet, the midweek defeat to Valencia has reopened the battle with Barcelona for La Liga title ahead of a crucial weekend in which the Catalans visit Atletico Madrid while Zidane's side face Villarreal.
Real Madrid are still one point ahead of Barcelona – with one game in hand – but face Villarreal (26 February), Las Palmas (1 March) and Eibar (4 March) in the space of seven days before visiting Napoli for second-leg of the Champions League last-16 tie on 7 March.
Varane is expected to miss all those game and another one against Athletic Club Bilbao but could be back after the international break scheduled for late March.