MADRID (AP) — With Real Madrid finally finding its stride, goalkeeper Iker Casillas has broken his hand as the team approaches a critical stretch of the season.
Casillas hurt his hand in a Copa del Rey quarterfinal match at Valencia on Wednesday, when teammate Alvaro Arbeloa kicked his left hand while clearing a loose ball in the area. Casillas immediately called for the team doctors before leaving the field in obvious pain.
The Spain international said after the game that he thought it was only a "knock," but after tests the club announced on its website Thursday that Casillas had a "fracture at the base of the first metatarsal of the left hand."
Madrid said Casillas will be evaluated by a specialist later Thursday to "decide what treatment to seek." It gave no indication how long Casillas will be sidelined. "Especially for a goalkeeper, the fingers and hands have to be given extra care," Casillas said after Wednesday's 1-1 draw that put Madrid in the semifinals.
Casillas' injury is a major blow to the team just when it is showing signs of recovering its excellent form from last season. With its Spanish league title defense all but impossible 15 points adrift of leader Barcelona, Madrid has placed its hopes of silverware in the Champions League and Copa de Rey.
Besides the weekly league matches, Madrid plays the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals next week. It then hosts Manchester United on Feb. 13 in the Champions League. Madrid has had a disappointing campaign marked by erratic performances and locker room strife between coach Jose Mourinho and his players. But Madrid has enjoyed a good run over the last 10 days, including a 5-0 rout of Valencia.
Backup Adan Garrido, who has shared starts with Casillas recently in a much-debated decision by Mourinho, will most likely take Casillas' place. "I have the confidence of my coach and in myself to do things well," Adan said after Wednesday's match. "If I have to play, I am ready."