Real Madrid will be without the services of key men Eden Hazard and Raphael Varane when they take on Athletic Bilbao at San Mames on Sunday afternoon.

Real Madrid will be looking to take another step towards the La Liga title when they face off against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames this weekend.

Zinedine Zidane’s side have a great chance to stretch their lead to seven points, but they will be affected by the absence of two key players on Sunday as both Raphael Varane and Eden Hazard will not be involved. Nacho is the other player who will not be available for selection for the weekend encounter.

Speaking of Varane’s condition, Zidane, in his pre-match presser, insisted that the Frenchman was better but was being rested as a precaution. “As a precaution, he won’t feature but he’s doing much better. I don’t want to take any sort of risk with him, he’s played a lot of football and a bit of a rest will do him no harm,” he said.

With Varane unavailable, Eder Militao should get the nod against Athletic. He will partner captain Sergio Ramos at the heart of the Real Madrid defence. Dani Carvajal is a certain starter at right-back, while the rotation at left-back should continue, with Marcelo coming in for Ferland Mendy.

There is no looking past the brilliant Casemiro in the defensive midfield role and while he could do with a rest, Zidane will stick with him with the La Liga title in sight. The same goes for Toni Kroos as well, who had a bit of an off night last time out against Getafe.

Luka Modric, though, is likely to drop out as two games in the space of three days might be a tad too much for his ageing legs. The Croat ought to be replaced by Federico Valverde, who has had a brilliant season so far.

In attack, the absence of Hazard will be a blow for Real Madrid. Zidane did not provide a clear indication as to when the Belgian wing-wizard would be back, in his press conference, which will be a major concern for the Merengues.

“He’s had a bit of discomfort in the last few days and we don’t want to risk anything and he’s the first not to want to take any risks. Let’s hope it’s nothing serious and that he’s back with us before the end of the league season. I hope he recovers fast. We just know that he took a big knock and that’s it,” he said.

With the Belgian unavailable, Vinicius Junior should once again get the nod on the left flank, although Marco Asensio is a strong contender. On the opposite side, Rodrygo Goes could be in line for a start after back-to-back dull displays from Isco. Karim Benzema is a certain starter in the centre-forward role for Real Madrid.

Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Ramos, Marcelo; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.

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