Madrid, Feb 12 (IANS) Real Madrid and Athletic Club Bilbao may miss key footballers in their La Liga clash but the focus will be squarely on visiting striker Aritz Aduriz here on Saturday.
Aduriz celebrated his 35th birthday on Thursday and he did so in the middle of the best season of his career. The powerful forward has netted 24 goals in all competitions this campaign and looks set to continue the strong form at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, reports Xinhua.
He will have to be at his best if Athletic are to overturn their recent results at the Bernabeu. The Basque side, who are currently sixth in the table, have won just once in their last 16 visits to Madrid and will travel without the suspended duo of Inaki Williams and Mikel San Jose, while Raul Garcia is still recovering from a knee injury.
Madrid also have their injury problems with Gareth Bale suffering a relapse of his calf injury, while Marcelo is out after dislocating his shoulder last week and central defender Pepe has a foot injury.
That will see either Danilo or Nacho Fernandez play at left back. But Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is unlikely to make too many changes to the side which has scored 16 goals in their last three home games.
Meanwhile, striker Benzema will be looking to continue the form which has seen him score in his last 6 appearances.
Madrid are third, four points behind leaders FC Barcelona with an extra game played.
Saturday also sees Villarreal take on Malaga, while Deportivo entertain Real Betis and Valencia play at home to Espanyol, a game where both coaches, Valencia’s Gary Neville and Espanyol’s Constantin Galca have their jobs on the line.