REAL MADRID

Real Madrid squad for Athletic: no Hazard, Varane or James

Not wanting to risk putting him out for the final run-in of what is hoped is a title-winning season, Zinedine Zidane has left out his star Belgian winger.

Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that he is not going to risk Eden Hazard's ankle for Sunday's game against Athletic in Bilbao. The Belgian was left out of the tight win over Getafe and the manager is keen to have him fully fit before returning.

Hazard out again for Madrid

The knock for Hazard came in the 1-0 win over Espanyol and, despite a tough game expected, Madrid could stretch their lead over Barcelona at the top of LaLiga to seven points if they win before the Catalans face Villarreal. Zidane doesn't want to jeopardise the winger's chances of finishing the season and will look to others to fill in.

"Eden's having a hard time these days and we don't want to risk anything, and he's the first [to agree]," Zidane said. "Hopefully, it's a small thing and we can see him again before the end of the league [season].

"He's been away for three or four days and I hope he'll get over it quickly. It's day to day; we don't know anything more than it's a strong blow. There are those who know, the doctors and the medics... they are very competent people. It was a blow against Espanyol and it's a matter of days."

Hazard's first season at Madrid since a €100million move from Chelsea has been blighted by injuries, with the 29-year-old having only started 13 league games in 2019-20.

"The Hazard thing is the sort of thing we don't want to happen, that's the worst thing for me," Zidane said. "It's not just me, there's a lot of people here to help the player.

"For Eden, it's his first year and he wants to help the team. And when he can't do that, he's not happy.

"I don't think he's afraid [of injuries]; what he wants is to be good enough to play. If he doesn't look 100 per cent, it's a problem for him and for everyone, because we love him to the max.

"What I hope is that we'll soon get out of it."

Real Madrid squad to face Athletic

Goalkeepers: Courtois, Areola, Altube.
Defenders: Carvajal, Militao, Ramos, Marcelo, Mendy, Javi Hernández.
Midfielders: Kroos, Modric, Casemiro, Valverde, Isco.
Forwards: Benzema, Bale, Lucas Vázquez, Jovic, Asensio, Brahim, Mariano, Vinicius, Rodrygo.