REAL MADRID’S former Arsenal star Dani Ceballos’ Olympic Games look to be over already as much-fancied Spain were held by Egypt to an opening match stalemate.
The 24-year-old midfielder was forced off during the first half after he was caught by a naughty challenge from Taher Mohamed at the Sapporo Dome.
Ceballos, who has spent the last two seasons on-loan with the Gunners, went in for the tackle during the closing stages of the opening period.
Taher was receiving the ball on the turn and appeared to be unaware of the Spaniard closing in behind him.
The Egyptian's foot subsequently planted onto the ankle of Ceballos and sent it sickenly bending in a freakish direction.
Referee Adham Makhadmeh was advised to check the VAR pitchside monitor as medics rushed on to treat the stricken ace.
But after a lengthy delay, the foul was only deemed to be worthy of a caution.
Fortunately Ceballos was able to limp off with his boot, pads and sock off but was unable to continue.
Osasuna’s Jon Moncayola came on to replace him in what proved to be a bruising afternoon for La Roja.
Ceballos was not the only Spanish star to pick up a knock against Egypt.
Oscar Mingueza had already headed off the pitch for the Gold medal favourites just 20 minutes into the clash.
The Barcelona defender picked up a knock and made way for Jesus Vallejo.
Now both men could be out of the fast-paced tournament – which takes place over a fortnight.
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The injury will come as a major blow to Ceballos as he looked to reignite his career at the Bernabeu following Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment as manager.
He said recently: “It is clear, I would like to play for Real Madrid. But you have to know what the coach wants and you have to be objective.
“But my intention is to play for Real Madrid next year.”
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