Sporting Gijon host Real Madrid on Saturday night in the Spanish La Liga
The title race is heating up as Real are only 3 points ahead of second-placed Barcelona although Los Blancos have a game in hand. Madrid could only manage a draw against Atletico Madrid last time out but were handed a boost after Barcelona fell to a surprising 2-0 loss against Malaga.
Sporting Gijon have been in poor form all season and are firmly entrenched in a relegation battle. Rubi’s side are currently in 18th place, 5 points away from 17th-placed Leganes and need every point they can get at this stage.
Real come into the match in good form and will be full of confidence after beating Bayern Munich 2-1 at the Allianz Arena in the UEFA Champions League in midweek but Zinedine Zidane has opted to rest several key player for this fixture given their congested schedule.
Speaking ahead of the match, the Frenchman confirmed that Gareth Bale would be unavailable due to an injury due to an issue that Bale has previously undergone an operation for. Zidane also confirmed that the issue was not a serious one and the Welshman would be available soon.
“Bale won’t feature tomorrow. We’ll have to see what his injury is. We’ll be monitoring his progress every day and we’ll see if he’s fit in time for Tuesday. I hope that he’s back with us shortly. He has some swelling to his soleus, it’s a muscular issue on the area he was operated on,” he said.
“I’m worried about it because I don’t like to see players out injured and all the more so during the run-in. He was excited after having spent three months out, but he knows that it’s not a serious one, it’s just a setback.”
Zidane has also opted to leave out both Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema from the matchday squad which means fringe players Alvaro Morata, James Rodriguez, Mariano Diaz and Lucas Vazquez will likely be handed starts.
Dani Carvajal is also unavailable after picking up a suspension which means Danilo is likely to slot in at right back. Raphael Varane is out for the forseeable future and Pepe is also out for a lengthy spell after breaking several ribs in an unfortunate collision with Toni Kroos during the match against Atletico Madrid.
Provisional Real Madrid Squad: Casilla, Yáñez, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo, Coentrão, Danilo, Tejero, Kroos, James, Casemiro, Kovacic, Modric, Asensio, Isco, Lucas Vázquez, Mariano, Morata