Zidane ready to rotate Madrid squad to cope with fixture congestion

Real Madrid plays Shakhtar Donetsk in its Champions League group stage opener on Wednesday before the 'El Clasico' against Barcelona on Saturday.

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane (File Photo).   -  Getty Images

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says his players are braced for rotations to meet the demands of a gruelling run of fixtures, beginning with Saturday's La Liga match at home to Cadiz.

Madrid then plays against Shakhtar Donetsk in a Champions League group stage opener on Wednesday before the 'El Clasico' against Barcelona on Saturday, part of a run of seven games in 22 days.

“We have spoken about this many times. To win things in a very long season we need to make rotations, and we have very good players who allow us to make changes,” Zidane told a news conference on Friday.

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“People need to remember what this team has lived through, the players never rest. We have a run of seven games and then they all go off with their national teams again. But I'm not complaining, I'm only explaining that it is necessary to rotate and I think we can still win while doing that.”

Real is missing three defenders in Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Odriozola and Eder Militao, meaning Zidane may have to field midfielder Lucas Vazquez at right back, a position he has played in before, in order to give captain Sergio Ramos or French defender Raphael Varane a rest. Forward Eden Hazard is also still out with a muscle problem.

Zidane has long been an advocate of making wholesale changes to his side, which he perfected in the 2016-17 season, fielding vastly different starting XIs from game to game yet going on to win the La Liga title and the Champions League.

“We've proven in the past that we can do great things this way,” he added. “The reality is that our players don't stop so it's important that others get a rest and we're going to keep doing it this way.”

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