Real Madrid v Atletico preview: Gareth Bale still absent for Real
By Associated Press Sport
Last Updated: 27/02/16 1:53pm
Real Madrid will not give up on the La Liga title even if they lose to Atletico Madrid on Saturday, says head coach Zinedine Zidane.
Both sides have seen their title hopes fade in recent weeks as Barcelona have moved eight points clear of Atletico at the top of the table with Real a further point behind in third.
Indeed, the European champions have stretched their lead over Real by seven points since Zidane took over from Rafael Benitez last month.
But Zidane insisted Real won't give up on the title race even if they are beaten by their city rivals.
"No matter what we are not going to give up until the end. There are points to play for," he said. "It is always going to be harder if we drop points, but we have games to play, we have the Champions League and we need to concentrate only on ourselves. Our season doesn't end tomorrow.
"It is a special match because it is a derby. I understand that people have doubted my abilities as a coach.
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"It is normal, people can think what they want, but I have to concentrate on what I do. I am clear about the ideas of what I want to do as a coach."
Zidane confirmed that left-back Marcelo (calf) will join Gareth Bale and Pepe on the sidelines but Karim Benzema should be available after overcoming a hip problem.
He also praised the job done by his Atletico counterpart Diego Simeone: "We are going to play a team who have a great coach. He is very important for his team and someone I have appreciated as a player and a coach.
"He has a competitive team. Now I must find the keys to play our best and win the match."
Simeone has seen off three previous Real coaches in Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafael Benitez during his four-year spell at Atletico in which he has turned around the history of their rivalry with Real.
Atletico hadn't won a derby for 14 years before winning the Copa del Rey at Real's Santiago Bernabeu stadium in 2013, but haven't lost a La Liga fixture to their city rivals in five games since.
"I can't evaluate what happens at other teams, but I do value the continuity and the work we have done with the players and the club to obtain this stability," said Simeone. "I am thankful for that and the results also help."
Atletico will still be without Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (ankle) and Tiago (broken leg), while Stefan Savic is doubtful after suffering a calf problem in the Champions League draw with PSV.
You can listen to live commentary of the Madrid derby on the Sky Sports website from 3pm on Saturday and also follow updates on the live blog before delayed coverage of the match is shown on Sky Sports 3 from 5.15pm.