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Diarra adds to Real woes

The crisis engulfing Real Madrid has taken a further turn for the worse after scans confirmed Mahamadou Diarra will miss the rest of the season through injury.

The Mali midfielder has been sidelined since the first week of November with a knee injury picked up while on international duty.

Diarra made one aborted attempt to return in the Copa del Rey defeat to second division side Real Union last month and scans on the injured joint have now revealed serious ligament damage.

"Mahamadou Diarra has a Grade IV chondral injury on the inner and outer femoral condyle and on the lateral tibia plateau. He also has a complex tear on the outer meniscus," read a club statement.

"The midfielder will miss six to nine months."

The ailing Spanish champions have already lost Ruud van Nistelrooy to a knee injury for the rest of the season.

In addition, Ruben De la Red and Wesley Sneijder will both miss Saturday's high-profile clash with Barcelona through injury, while Netherlands winger Arjen Robben is suspended.

However, club captain Raul has no doubts that Barcelona can be beaten in the Camp Nou in el Clasico on Saturday.

Real boss Bernd Schuster caused a storm when he suggested after his side's 4-3 home defeat to Sevilla that there was no way his team could beat Barca, but Raul says the German coach is merely playing mind games.

The veteran Spain international told Marca: "The team is convinced that we can win against Barca. We know that they are in great form, with a lot of confidence and that it will be very difficult, but we can take all three points.

"We will never let our heads drop and give up on anything. Nobody should ever believe that we are finished as we still have a lot to prove. We know what it means to defend this badge.

"Schuster, behind closed doors, has told us that we are capable of beating any team. We know that we can do a lot of damage to Barcelona on Saturday.

"If we lose or draw then there are still plenty of games left and we are still in the Champions League. We are going to try and have a great game against Zenit, then play on Saturday and finish the year against Valencia.

"The most important thing for everyone to remember is the prestige of the club."