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Zinedine Zidane has left Raphael Varane out of Real Madrid's 19-man squad for the trip to Barcelona on Saturday 2 April, after the France centre-back picked an injury in the preparation for El Clasico. Zizou was also forced to leave Mateo Kovacic and the out-of-favour Alvaro Arbeloa out of his squad, with him having his entire squad, except Varane, at his disposal.
Zidane faces his first El Clasico as Real Madrid manager this weekend. Barcelona beat Los Blancos 4-0 earlier in the campaign, while still under the rule of current Newcastle United coach Rafa Benitez. Zidane, however, says his side are not after revenge but are focused on winning the game to close the 10-point gap between Real and their Catalan nemeses.
"I haven't spoken to the players about the [previous] game. They know what happened. This is another game that is different to that one. It is a game that we must win and we want to win. I have seen and analysed the home game, but I haven't spoken to the players about it," the boss said a press conference ahead of the game.
"We are here to win games – we try to win every game. We've prepared well during the whole week; we've been without a few players but there's nothing we can do about that. We will try to win as we always do".
The boss confirmed that Varane is the only significant absentee for the game, so he faces some selection headaches. He refused to confirm if he will rotate any key players for the game at Barcelona though, as his side face Wolfsburg in a Champions League quarter-final just four days later.
"I'm not going to say who is going to play. I don't think about rotation. The most important thing is tomorrow's game. One team will play tomorrow and then later on we will see who plays on Wednesday. I'm going to field the team that I see as the best option tomorrow. We will have rotation in any case, as we always do, up to the end of the season," he said.
Speaking about Varane's absence for the trip to Barcelona, he added: "The problem is we cannot control these things. He played the second game with France, he had some sort of injury. We don't know exactly what it is. We did an ultrasound scan this morning and we will now do an MRI scan to see what it really is that he has. These things can happen if you have two games very close together".
The Real Madrid boss named a 19-man squad without any major surprises and led by the BBC – Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo – attack. Arbeloa and Kovavic are the only absentees from the first-team squad, alongside the injured Varane.