Jude Bellingham has not travelled to Germany for Real Madrid’s Champions League round-of-16 first-leg clash against RB Leipzig due to an ankle injury.
The England midfielder was not named in the Real squad for the trip after a sprained ankle forced him off in Saturday’s 4-0 win over surprise LaLiga title rivals Girona – but not before he had scored a brace.
Bellingham has scored 20 goals in 31 appearances for Real and rapidly become one of their most important players but manager Carlo Ancelotti is confident his side can cope.
“We have to think that Bellingham isn’t here, but we’ve won four out of four games without him,” the Italian said at his pre-match press conference. “Those who have replaced him have done very well, like Brahim (Diaz) or Joselu.
“He’s a very important player, but I think this has been an opportunity to get more motivated.
“We arrive on the back of a good run – the form is good. We are up against a good side with plenty of quality that plays a high-tempo game.
“We have shown lots of character, and credit to the team. The vibe is good.”
Leipzig boss Marco Rose, who coached Bellingham at Borussia Dortmund in 2021-22, is not convinced the 20-year-old will not feature on Tuesday.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Monday, he said: “I won’t believe that Jude will be out until he’s not in the stadium tomorrow.
“I know Jude, I know that he will do everything to play a Champions League game.”
Even without Bellingham, Ancelotti has plenty of star-power to choose from, but Rose insists his side will not be intimidated.
“We’re certainly not afraid,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the opponent, to the task, to our stadium. That’s what we want. What we worked hard for last season and now in the group stage.
“Real Madrid have developed outstandingly this season and become one of the strongest teams in Europe. They are in exceptionally good shape – in all areas.
“They know what it means to play in the Champions League and win it too. And we know about their qualities.
“But we’re not that bad and we have great footballers in our ranks. We will give everything and look for our opportunities to develop a good starting position.”
Defender Mohamed Simakan is in contention despite picking up a knock in the weekend Bundesliga draw at Augsburg, while midfielder Amadou Haidara has stepped up training after picking up a knee problem on Mali duty at the Africa Cup of Nations but remains doubtful.