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Few coaches have taken as kindly to rotating their squad as Zinedine Zidane, and Real Madrid's success in LaLiga this season owes much to the performances of their fringe players.

Often the Frenchman has swapped five or six first-teamers out of his team, remaining cautious with injury worries, and even going to the length of bringing in 10 or 11 fresh players when the fixture list demands it.

Exactly how high up the table the likes of Mateo Kovacic, Danilo, James Rodriguez, and Marco Asensio could reach if played every game is tough to tell, but they've done the business so far.

Eibar, Leganes, and Sporting Gijon have all been dispatched away from home by the second string with 11 goals bagged along the way.

Indeed, 11 players featuring at Estadio El Molinon are internationals with Isco, Rodriguez, and Kovacic often tipped for a more prominent role within the team.

The Colombian midfielder is certainly demanding more and yet he must wait in line having scored just three times in LaLiga this campaign, as many as Asensio and less than Alvaro Morata's 11 and Isco's seven strikes.

While few first XIs can go toe to toe with Los Blancos' first choice line-up, it's hard to think of many more who can match the fringe outfit available to Zidane.

Bale: Real Madrid not at their best yet

There's still more to come from Real Madrid according to Gareth Bale, who has named the Champions League as the competition at the forefront of his mind.

With Bayern Munich their opponents in the quarter-finals, Los Blancos can be optimistic of progression thanks to a 2-1 first leg win at Allianz Arena.

"I think we've been solid," the Welshman said to Mega. "We're not at our best yet.

"[The Champions League] has always been the competition for Madrid. We have won it 11 times, more than anybody else, and the essence of this club is in Champions League trophies."

Going on to discuss his own personal development, Bale noted how pleased he was with his adaptation to life in Spain.

"I have matured a lot as a man, as a human being," he continued. "Living in a foreign country, you have to adapt quickly.

"My game has improved a lot, playing a different type of football. It is the reason why I wanted to come here; to develop as a footballer, be more complete, try to improve, and win trophies."

Bale will miss Bayern Munich return leg

In a season defining week, with matches against Bayern Munich and Barcelona, Real Madrid will be without Gareth Bale after a knock to the soleus muscle in his calf.

Zinedine Zidane is taking no risks with the Welshman, and Isco and Marco Asensio's recent performances go a long way in minimising the impact of his absences.

It still remains to be seen whether Bale will play in El Clasico, but the Bayern Munich match on Tuesday is just too soon.

Bayern Munich optimistic regarding comeback

In spite of the burden their 2-1 home defeat entails, Bayern Munich remain hopeful they can turn the tide and knock Real Madrid out of the Champions League this upcoming week.

While their 0-0 draw versus Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday does not seem very encouraging on paper, several senior figures within the Bavarian dressing room affirmed the countless opportunities they generated are a positive indicator of their chances against Los Blancos.

"We know we are capable of scoring two goals" said team captain Phillip Lahm on Bayern's official website. "The number of opportunities we created make us feel very optimistic.

"Of course Madrid are the favourites to advance, but we can win there."

Forward Thomas Muller also indicated the squad will put up a fight until the final whistle.

"It's a pity we squandered a lot of scoring opportunities, but we are looking forward towards Tuesday's duel."

Coach Carlo Ancelotti is convinced his return to Estadio Santiago Bernabeu will be a match for the ages.

"We really believe in our chances and we will try to give our best," he claimed.

Moreover, the Italian boss received pleasant news from the medical staff, regarding the recovery of star striker Robert Lewandowski.

"[Lewandowski] has been practising individually in Munich and it looks like he will be ready."

Nevertheless, the odds of starting centre-backs Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels of participating are significantly lower.

James Rodriguez barely visible against Sporting Gijon

If Isco stole the show with his brace in Real Madrid's dramatic 3-2 victory over Sporting Gijon then James Rodriguez missed his opportunity as he was barely visible throughout the majority of the match.

First-team chances have been limited for the Colombian this term and he will have done himself no favours with coach Zinedine Zidane as he failed to take control of the match.

He tried to dovetail with Isco and Mateo Kovacic but had little success and was on the periphery of everything Los Blancos did well in attack.

There was improvement in the second half but it wasn't significant with his best action coming in the 74th minute when he fired a left footed shot towards goal from the edge of the penalty area.

The 25-year-old had an opportunity to win the game just four minutes from the end but his shot was blocked.

Despite such a quiet display Rodriguez was quick to revel in the success of his teammate and friend Isco with the former Monaco star posting an image of the pair on his Twitter account with a message of congratulations to the Spaniard.

"With the man of the afternoon, two goals from Isco, you killed it. What a great victory!" he said.

Pique: Barcelona can come back against Juventus and beat Real Madrid

The Champions League and LaLiga hopes of Barcelona both hang by a thread, yet Gerard Pique believes the Blaugrana can put together a sensational week by knocking Juventus out of Europe and by winning away at Real Madrid in the league.

Although they will have to overturn a 3-0 deficit against the Italians, the defender pointed to the comeback against Paris Saint-Germain, while past Clasico results have also given him a reason to be optimistic.

"We have overturned the defeat we suffered in Paris and we have won in the [Estadio Santiago] Bernabeu several times in recent years, so we can do it again," he told TV3 after his team's 3-2 win over Real Sociedad on Saturday night.

"The two matches are related.

"If we can turn around the Juventus tie then we will go [to Madrid] with enough momentum to win there.

"It is possible to achieve both and I am confident that we can."

The return leg against the Serie A champions takes place on Wednesday night, with kick-off at 20:45 CET, while the Clasico is next Sunday with the same kick-off time.

Benzema: Hazard would be a good signing for Real Madrid

Set to unfold as one of the big transfer sagas of the summer, Eden Hazard's potential move to Real Madrid has been backed by Karim Benzema.

The French striker has enjoyed a partnership with Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, and occasionally Alvaro Morata across the current season but could be joined by the Chelsea star if the clubs can strike a deal.

"[Hazard] is a very good player, what can I say?" Benzema told Telefoot after Los Blancos beat Sporting Gijon 3-2 on Saturday.

"I have not seen the rumors, but it's obvious that he would be a good signing."

MARCA have previously reported that Real are ready to take the plunge and bid for the Belgian this summer, who has scored 15 and assisted nine goals for Chelsea in 2016/17.
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