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Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are out of Sunday evening’s La Liga game at Espanyol with minor fitness problems.

Ronaldo has been suffering with illness, while Bale took a knock to his hip during Madrid’s last gasp 2-1 Champions League Group F win over Sporting Lisbon in midweek, and neither trained with the squad on either Friday or Saturday morning.

After playing twice in the last week after a delayed start to his 2016-17 season, Zidane said Portugal international Ronaldo had felt unwell.

“Cristiano will not travel with us. He has been feeling a sore throat, and he will stay at home,” Zidane told a news conference. “We will take no risks, as always, and even less with Cristiano.”

Bale was substituted against Sporting after suffering a hip problem in a challenge from ex-Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates, and Zidane said: “We will have to see with Gareth.

“The players want to play, which is good, but with so many games to play, every three days, we cannot take risks with such an important player. I’m not saying tomorrow is not important, but he might get a bang in the same spot, and be out for 10 days, or more. I prefer for him to be 100 percent on Wednesday. Although I always speak first with the player.”

With Villarreal at home, Las Palmas away and then Borussia Dortmund away in the Champions League up next, during a run of seven games in 22 days, Zidane is expected to name a much-changed XI for the trip to Cornella El-Prat, where Madrid won 6-0 early last season.

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James Rodriguez is likely to come into the XI. The Colombia international is yet to start a game in 2016-17 but has impressed as a substitute and set up the winner against Sporting in midweek.

“James is training very well,” he said. “He will play games. He is an important player for the team. That’s it. The important thing is that I see him doing very well, but last year too — it’s not that things have changed. He is committed and wants to play, as they all do, and he will get his minutes for sure, and he will bring us what he must bring us.”

Madrid go to Cornella-El Prat defending the Primera Division’s only 100 percent record and going for a club record 16 league wins on the trot — which would equal the all-time La Liga record set by Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in 2010-11.

“The record makes us happy, of course,” Zidane said. “What we want, more than anything, is to keep winning games, getting the three points, which is the most important. I’m very proud of my players, it is they who play every three days, and put in incredible performances every time they go out. So I’m very satisfied and proud of them, and the many other people who work with me in the club.”

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Culled from ESPNFC

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