Third place Real Madrid are set to take on Europe chasing Athletic Bilbao in a must win clash for Zinedine Zidane’s side at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.
Real Madrid have a 100% win record at home since Zidane took over as the manager of the club in early January having won 3 out of 3 matches in emphatic fashion. A win for Real Madrid on Saturday will take them to within 1 point off league leaders FC Barcelona who still have a game in hand over their title rivals.
Zidane and his Real Madrid side, however, will find it difficult to replicate their terrific displays at home against Ernesto Valverde’s Athletic Bilbao side, who are challenging for a place in next year’s Champions League and are currently sixth in the La Liga table.
Real Madrid hit by Marcelo injury blow
Real Madrid full back Marcelo will miss out this weekend after injuring his shoulder against Granada last Sunday. The medical report released by the club revealed that the Brazilian is suffering from a sprain of the acromio-clavicular joint (ACJ) which will rule him out for 2-3 weeks. Spanish International Nacho is likely to replace Marcelo at left back against Bilbao.
“[Marcelo’s] ruled out against Athletic,” said Zidane (via football espana) He’s in pain and it’s best if we watch his recovery day by day. He did some continuous running [on Friday] and that’s good. We’re not going to risk him.”
Zidane further went on to provide an injury update on Welsh winger Gareth Bale.
“Bale will play when he’s 100 percent. I won’t say when he’ll be ready. We just want our players to be 100%. I want Gareth to be at 100%, rather than 80 or 85. If a player has discomfort, it’s normal that he has a relapse.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) February 12, 2016
“We’re not going to risk anything. It’s only been that while Bale has recovered, he felt something new. We can’t decide how things happen. He wants to play, but for now, with the pain he’s feeling, we must be patient.”
Zidane also revealed that summer signing Mateo Kovacic will start for the Los Blancos in place of Spanish playmaker Isco who will be given a rest against Bilbao.
“[Mateo] Kovacic will play from the start. I’m telling you [reporters] because I plan to rest Isco so Kovacic can play. Kovacic should do the same work as Isco, with and without the ball.”