A resurgent Real Madrid host Athletic Bilbao tonight and will look to continue their good form by getting all three points and keep the pressure on rivals Atletico and Barcelona.
There were no surprise inclusions or exclusions in the match day squad for when Real Madrid welcome Atheltic Bilbao to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu tonight. Zidane will most likely lineup in his usual 4-3-3 formation, despite key players like Luka Modric and Casemiro missing in midfield.
This would likely mean starts for Isco and either Kovacic or James in midfield. The absence of Sergio Ramos in midfield means a start for Raphael Varane alongside Pepe. Coentrao remains sidelined through his injury and doesn’t feature in this matchday squad.
After 4 consecutive draws between the 21st of September and 2nd of October, Los Blancos finally got back to winning ways with a 1-6 thrashing of Real Betis last week in the league and are coming off a 5-1 demolition of Legia Warsaw in the Champions League.
In his pre-match press conference, Zidane insisted that this was the way he wanted to keep going and that he and his side were looking forward to facing Athletic. The 44-year-old had come under stark criticism for his side’s performances during that rough patch and questions were being raised about his future at the club.
But he insisted that he was happy to be there and was motivated everyday. “I’m lucky enough to have experienced it as a player because you can have four or six good months and then things get tougher,” he said, before adding, “The day to day work is the key aspect, I know I’ve got the best players and we’ve got to keep working until the end.”
Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t scored in 3 games at the Santiago Bernabeu while Benzema and Bale are yet to hit top form. Youngsters Marcos Asensio and Alvaro Morata are also staking their claim for a starting spot.
Speaking about the infamous ‘BBC’ he said, “I’m always going to consider all the players and we’re lucky enough to have three world-beaters. I have to make decisions and I know how important all the players are and what they can offer.”
He has also spoken to Morata and assured him of more chances in the first team over the course of this long season, stating that he is a key player before adding that, “In the last few games it’s been just Karim up top and there’s no debate for me because they’re all important. That’s what encourages me”.