Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid preview: Zinedine Zidane wary of tough trip to the San Mames
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 18/03/17 2:34pm
Real Madrid's players have been warned by Zinedine Zidane that Saturday's trip to Athletic Bilbao (kick-off 3.15pm GMT) is one of their biggest challenges remaining in the La Liga title race.
Zidane's side visit San Mames on Saturday with a two-point lead over Barcelona at the top of the table and a game in hand over their great rivals, who must still travel to the Bernabeu in their final 11 fixtures.
Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla must all visit Real down the stretch too but it is an away fixture at Athletic that Zidane is rightly wary of given no team has won there since Ivan Rakitic grabbed Barca's winner seven months ago.
"These are three really important points for us," Zidane said at his pre-match press conference.
"They will defend well just as they always do. We will be put to the test but we've been working hard, we have confidence and character. We need to combine these elements in order to win.
"The only game they lost at home was against Barcelona. We know it will be one of the most demanding games that we have left. It is a difficult place to go to but we will try to play well and win the game, doing as we've been doing up until now."
Gareth Bale has been named in the 20-man squad that will travel north having served a two-match domestic suspension following his dismissal against Las Palmas.
Zidane's squad are still chasing two trophies and on Friday learned that Carlo Ancelotti's Bayern Munich would be their last-eight opponents in the Champions League.
Both Ancelotti and Zidane have won Europe's most prestigious club competition at Real but the former left without delivering the La Liga title, something which has so far eluded the current Real boss too.
"I learned here how great it is to win everything," Zidane added referencing his playing career.
"I'm as driven to win La Liga as the Champions League. There are just five games left until the Champions League final and there are 12 left in La Liga. There are no easy games and in the Champions League we're up against a tough and driven opponent.
"April will be a huge month for us, but we have the group, the squad to face the challenge. The best part of the season is lying in wait. The players know this and we're focused on our aim which is winning everything."