Los Blancos will head into el Clasico full of confidence after seeing off los Leones with little trouble thanks to two penalties from the Brazilian and the Portuguese's strikeKaka penalty in each half proved to be the difference between a much changed Real Madrid side and Athletic Bilbao.
Jose Mourinho opted to leave out Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso amongst others in preparation for el Clasico and it paid off, as his side cruised to a 3-0 victory.
Ronaldo, however, completed the route in the 70th minute with his 28th goal of the season after entering the fray in the second half.
Bilbao started the brighter of the two sides but were unable to turn their early dominance into a lead, leaving Iker Casillas largely untested.
Madrid were awarded a 13th minute penalty when Angel Di Maria looked to latch onto a through ball and was brought down by Gorka Iraizoz to give away a penalty.
Kaka stepped up with minimal fuss and expertly placed the ball beyond the ‘keeper to give Madrid the lead.
Los Leones re-asserted their game plan after and through Fernando Llorente were creating chances to level. The Spanish striker turned Pepe before introducing Carlos Gurpegi whose effort was deflected wide of the post.
Real Madrid remained content to work on the counter, and when Kaka showed his class with a through ball, Gonzalo Higuain found himself one-on-one. The Argentine looked to set himself but could only fire his shot straight at Iraizoz who had stood-up well to save with his feet.
Iraizoz was called upon again when he met Di Maria 30 yards away from his goal but could only gift the ball to Higuain. The striker didn’t show the same class as Inter's Dejan Stankovic though, as his volley from 40 yards missed the target.The Basques began to trouble Casillas more regularly as Iker Munain had an effort from distance fumbled by the ‘keeper before Raul Albiol cleared the danger.
Chances were beginning to flow for los Blancos too, as Angel Di Maria attempted an audacious chip that came close to nestling in at the far post.
Athletic Bilbao were in need of something extra before half-time and they came close after a quick break away when Gaizka Toquero pulled wide and crossed for Llorente. The ball fell for Gurpegi after he had burst forward but his shot whistled past the upright.
The home side began the second-half as they had the first with positivity. David Lopez, a half-time substitute, delivered a precise free-kick and Bilbao should have levelled through Llorente’s header but it was straight at Casillas.
The hosts' encouraging start to the half was undone though, when Xabier Castillo needlessly barged into Di Maria in the penalty area, giving away a second penalty.
Kaka resumed his role as penalty taker and hammered it past Iraizoz to double Real Madrid’s lead and give them breathing space ahead of the last half hour.
Toquero wasted a good chance when a cross intended for Llorente reached him at the far post but the striker couldn’t find the target when put under pressure by Raul Albiol.
Llorente was guilty of missing a great chance soon after when his strike partner crossed and the No.9 had a free header. He rose high but he couldn’t trouble Casillas.
Ronaldo scored his side’s third goal after his introduction in the second half when he drove towards goal before cutting back inside and unleashing an unstoppable shot in the opposite corner, all after Granero’s stunning pass.
Madrid looked to see the game off with little trouble as Mourinho introduced Carvalho and Xabi Alonso to maintain their match fitness ahead of their trip to England midweek.
Llorente came close to scoring a consolation for his side but Carvalho’s touch took it away from the striker to ensure a clean sheet for the Madrid outfit.Los Blancos face Tottenham in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final as they look to reach the semi-finals for the first time in eight years.
Joaquin Caparros will hope his side recover quickly ahead of the run-in to the end of the season. His side will still feel confident of claiming a Europa league spot next season as this represents the last tie against a side in the top eight of La Liga.