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Madrid lose their linchpin

Published: Monday 10 February 2003, 21.24CET
Real Madrid CF's Fernando Hierro could miss the rest of the UEFA Champions League second group stage.

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Published: Monday 10 February 2003, 21.24CET

Madrid lose their linchpin

Real Madrid CF's Fernando Hierro could miss the rest of the UEFA Champions League second group stage.
Real Madrid CF may have to negotiate the rest of the UEFA Champions League second group stage without Fernando Hierro after confirming that their captain will be out for up to six weeks.

Defensive linchpin
The 34-year-old defender, who has been the linchpin of the Madrid defence for the past decade, partially tore a right knee ligament and had to leave the action midway through the second half of his side's 4-1 victory against Real Betis Balompié at the Santiago Bernabéu on Satuday.

Forthcoming matches
The man who lifted the European Champion Clubs' Cup last season following Madrid's 2-1 final victory against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Hierro has featured in six of his side's eight games this time around. However, the centre-back will definitely miss the two matches against BV Borussia Dortmund and, almost certainly, AC Milan's visit to the Spanish capital on 12 March.

Indifferent start
If Hierro recovers quicker than expected, he could feature in the final Group C game away to FC Lokomotiv Moskva on 18 March. Madrid's bid to reach the last eight is likely to go to the wire as they have collected just a point from their opening two fixtures, a loss to Milan and home draw against the Russian team.

Numerous honours
Hierro will not miss any of Spain's qualifying matches for UEFA EURO 2004™ after retiring from international duty following last summer's FIFA World Cup, his fourth. The player has enjoyed a trophy-laden spell at the Bernabéu after joining Madrid from Real Valladolid in 1989, his honours including three Champions League titles, four Spanish first division titles and one Copa del Rey.

Last updated: 11/02/03 11.53CET

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