Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that he will rotate his squad for the La Liga game with Eibar on Saturday (9 April) as his future at the club could depend on the next week's Champions League quarter final second leg against Wolfsburg. Cristiano Ronaldo will keep his place in the line-up anyway but the French boss has left two key players − Luka Modric and Keylor Navas − out his 19-man squad alongside suspended Sergio Ramos and injured duo Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane.
Los Blancos host Eibar in the third position of the La Liga table after they closed the gap with Barcelona to seven points the previous weekend with a 2-1 victory over the Catalans in the second El Clasico of La Liga. Yet, only four days later the joy turned into misery after the 10th Champions League winners suffered an unexpected 2-0 defeat to Wolfsburg in the quarter final first leg of the European competition.
Zidane hopes Real Madrid will turn things around once again against Eibar in order to boost the morale of his squad ahead of the second leg decider against Wolfsburg to be played just three days later, on Tuesday (12 April). The French boss, nevertheless, will make some rotations in his line-up at weekend as he is aware of the massive importance of the Champions League encounter towards his long-term future at the club. This way he has left out of the squad number one Keylor Navas and Modric.
"Ronaldo will play tomorrow. There will be rotation, for sure, but in order to win the game tomorrow. The game on Tuesday is different," the manager confirmed in the press conference, while adding that both him and Real Madrid's current squad will be playing for their future in the following game with Wolfsburg.
"I'm sure the fans will be with us. On Tuesday, we play for our season. I like it when things get tough. Nobody expected this from the first leg, but it's done now. What excites me is what I'm doing. I'm always positive. If we're eliminated, it's part of football. I assume my responsibility over the project and we'll see at the end of the season.
"A coach is playing for his job in every match. I know the responsibility of being at this club but I don't look at it like that. It's what I'm doing every day that motivates me. I enjoy it and it drives me. I don't think about the negative things that may happen because I've always been positive and I always will be. I'm relaxed about these things and I'm positive.
"We have to think that when I started in this job, I knew what I was getting myself into, otherwise I wouldn't have taken it on. I'm very relaxed, and what drives me every day, is how I can improve the team. If I get knocked out of a competition, everything could change, that's part of football but I don't think about it. I'm just thinking about the rest of the season, I have a job to do and I accept my responsibility to this project. We'll see what happens at the end of the season, but for now I'm very relaxed".
Academy striker Borja Mayoral, meanwhile, has been included in the squad to cover the absence of Karim Benzema after the Frenchman picked up a knee injury at Wolfsburg. The striker was forced to be replaced early in the first half by Jese and will miss the visit of Eibar too. Yet Zidane claimed that he expects both him and Varane to return on time for the next week decider with Wolfsburg.
"Karim is still feeling pain from the knock on his knee at the moment, the plan is for him to continue his individual programme. They (Benzema and Varane) will definitely train tomorrow, they worked in the indoor facilities today and I hope to have both of them ready for Tuesday."
The France centre-back already missed the last two games due to an injury he suffered in the preparation of the trip to Barcelona. This way, and with Ramos also out of the squad following the red card he saw in El Clasico, Pepe and academy defender Nacho are expected to lead the back-line against Eibar. Furthermore, Dani Carvajal may replace Danilo in the right-back role after the Brazilian was at fault in the two goals conceded on Wednesday (6 April) at Wolfsburg.