18.03.2017 19:38 h

Zidane won't seek international call-offs

Toni Kroos
Toni Kroos

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insisted he won't ask for players to miss international friendlies and return to the Spanish capital early ahead of an action-packed April for the European champions.

A 2-1 win at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday moved Zidane's men five points clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

However, they face a blockbuster Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich and seven La Liga matches in April, including against Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, on their return from an upcoming two-week international break.

Last year Madrid managed to convince a number of national teams to release the likes of Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos to miss friendlies in the March international break.

However, Zidane said there would be no repeat despite Madrid's upcoming schedule.

"I'm not going to get involved," said Zidane on Saturday.

"The players will go with the national teams. I will rest, they won't, but there is nothing we can do.

"When they return from the national teams we are going to have nine games in 28 days and everything will be on the line.

"We are 24 (in the squad) and I am sure we will need everyone, but I won't speak with anyone (in the national teams)."

Zidane showed his intentions to rely on his squad as Cristiano Ronaldo was substituted for the final 12 minutes at San Mames.

However, the World Player of the Year showed no dissent to being replaced by Isco.

"He can go off now and again," added Zidane. "I was happy with how he played, we won and that is what I am left with."

Madrid had a rare midweek off to prepare for their trip to the Basque country and inflict Athletic's first home defeat in 20 games.

And Marcelo recognised that benefit of a full week's preparation, which they won't have for the rest of the campaign, proved vital.

"We had time to prepare this week and it worked out well. We knew what we needed to do," he told BeIN Sports Spain.

Brazilian midfielder Casemiro was Madrid's unlikely hero as he bundled home the winner 22 minutes from time after Aritz Aduriz had cancelled out Karim Benzema's opener for Real.

"Obviously it was a very important game, but in our heads we are only thinking about winning every game not how many points in front we are," added Marcelo.

"Heading into the international break it was important to be first."