Alvaro Morata is set to start for Real Madrid against Espanyol this Saturday afternoon, with his coach Zinedine Zidane confirming that he’ll be handed a place in his XI.
Explaining that he does not want the striker to leave in the summer due to a lack of playing time, the coach stressed the importance of giving him opportunities.
“I wouldn’t like [Morata] to leave at the end of the season,” he said at his Friday press conference.
“He will play from the start against Espanyol and I know that this won’t be the last time he plays from the start.
“We look at the circumstances of each match and each player.
“The staff knows how many minutes each player has played and what we want from them all until the end of the season.”
Further discussing the issue of rotations, Zidane pointed out how hard it is to keep all his players happy when everybody is training and playing well.
“Everybody is training phenomenally and it’s obviously difficult [to spread the playing time] when I have 24 players,” he said.
“However, I cannot only say that they’re all important, as we must rotate when we have matches every three days in order to give others a chance to play and also to introduce some freshness.
“That’s what we’ll do from now until the end [of the season].”
Of those 24 players, almost all of them are available for the final stretch of the season, even if Sergio Ramos misses out this weekend.
“[Ramos] has a knock, not an injury, and he’ll be with us next week, from Monday,” those at the press conference were told.
“We have a two or three players with minor injury niggles, but no serious injuries, so I’m happy that we’re almost all available.”
One of the players available again is Gareth Bale, who Zidane also confirmed is in line for some playing time.
“[Bale] is in the squad and our plan is for him to have some minutes,” the Frenchman revealed.
“He is important for us as we know the quality he possesses, the speed he can unleash when in position and the pain he can cause opponents.
“He is very happy to be back with the team.”
The midweek Champions League action was also reflected upon, with Zidane delighted with the 3-1 home win against Napoli and with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema’s displays.
“The support from the fans was fantastic the other day and that energy was a boost for us, as it always is,” he insisted.
“[Ronaldo] isn’t just a goalscorer, but he can also link up and play with the team and that is what he is doing.
“He did so against Napoli and it won’t the last time.
“[Benzema] got a goal the other day, while other times it hasn’t come for him.
“A No.9 has to score, but he knows how to score and how to do other things too.”
As for Barcelona’s devastating 4-0 loss in Paris, Zidane did not believe their potential elimination from Europe would affect the race for the league title.
“I don’t think things in LaLiga will change if Barcelona are eliminated from the Champions League,” he said.
“We’re only looking at our own situation.”
Finally, analysing this weekend’s opponents, Zidane urged caution regarding an Espanyol side that has won three of its past four.
“Espanyol are a team coming off a good run of results and we know how difficult this match will be, which is what we now have to deal with every three days,” he said.
That encounter kicks off at 16:15 CET on Saturday afternoon.