Atlético Madrid also celebrate Messi's late El Clásico winner
Zidane opted not to offer the travelling squad yesterday during the press conference ahead of tonight's game at Riazor. The French coach has an interesting "squad selection Sudoku" on his hands. Winning or even drawing Sunday's El Clásico would have given him breathing space in the domestic competition vis-a-vis squad selection and offering more rest for the two Champons League semi-final legs against Atlético (May 2nd and 10th). Messi's later winner has transformed the title race as Zidane's men travel to Riazor and face an erratic but potentially dangerous Valencia at the Bernabéu on Saturday. They then play a doomed Granada away, travel to Vigo for the game in hand and welcome Sevilla to the Bernabéu in the last game of the season.
This fixture list would have been sufficient to enable the French coach to rotate players given the complexity of each game with his so-called "B team" being called into action for league duty with the bigger name players rested for European nights. Sunday's late Messi goal has disrupted that plan of action. On the injury front, Bale looks destined for a month on the sidelines although there is hope the Welshman would be ready to play in a hypothetical Cardiff Champions League final. I've been asked about what side Zidane should play today in Riazor after the exertions of Sunday and then on Saturday against Valencia? I'd suggest that the coach will opt possibly for a blend of peripheral squad players along with regular starters.
The positive news for Zidane is that this so called "B team" has always come up with the goods when drafted into action. The fans have taken to a front line of Lucas Vázquez-Morata-Asensio and Isco is in an excellent vein of form at present. James has delivered when called upon and Kovacic's impressive work-rate almost goes undetected. Could this be the core of the team that Madrid will use at Riazor or in Saturday's clash against Valencia? I'd like to see a degree of balance in both cases. Depor fans will be hoping that Riazor offers a repeat of Barça's defeat earlier there this season and Messi's goal has unquestionably fired life into the league title campaign and given Atleti a boost in their quest for a Champions League final berth.
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