Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is doubtful for their Clasico clash with Barcelona and their Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool after picking up an injury on international duty.
The centre-back returned from action with Spain earlier this week following a previous injury lay-off, only for the club to confirm that he has suffered a muscle problem in his left leg.
It means the 36-year-old looks almost certain to sit out next week's crunch clash for Zinedine Zidane's side, as Jurgen Klopp's Reds head to the Spanish capital with a semi-final spot at stake across the two legs.
What has happened to Ramos?
The Blancos captain was a late substitute in Luis Enrique's side's win over Kosovo earlier this week, only entering the fray in the 86th minute after spending much of 2021 sidelined with a knee injury and then a calf problem.
Now he appears to have picked up yet another knock, with the club confirming that they are awaiting further results before determining how long he will be out for, with suggestions that it could be up to a month.
"After the tests carried out today on our captain Sergio Ramos by the Real Madrid medical services, he was diagnosed with a muscle injury in his left leg," Madrid revealed in an official statement . "It is pending further evalua."
Which games will he miss?
The Spaniard will almost certainly sit out both his side's first-leg encounter in the Spanish capital on Tuesday with the Reds, and then the reverse fixture just over a week later at Anfield.
It hands further headaches to coach Zidane, who is already hoping that Toni Kroos and Federico Valverde do not miss the game, but also robs the match of one of its more fiery subplots.
In the 2018 Champions League Final in Kiev, in which Madrid and Liverpool squared off, Ramos was responsible for dislocating Reds striker Mohamed Salah's shoulder with an arm-lock challenge, once which forced the Egypt international - arguably his side's most valuble threat - from the field after just 25 minutes.
A Gareth Bale brace ensured Real went on to claim another European crown, with Ramos coming under fire for his conduct - although Salah would have the last laugh when he helped steer Liverpool to the title a year later against Tottenham, as Madrid slipped to a last-16 exit against Ajax.
The bigger picture
Ramos' lay-off is not only a blow to Madrid's European ambitions but also their domestic hopes too, as their captain will also sit out the latest iteration of the Classico, which is sandwiched between the two legs against Liverpool.
With league leaders Atletico having suffered a significant drop in form to open the door of the title race in La Liga since the turn of the year, both Ronald Koeman's Blaugrana and Los Blancos are locked in a three-way challenge.
Victory over second-place Barca would likely allow Madrid to leapfrog them, providing they do not slip up in their first game back this weekend against Eibar.