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Real Madrid to rest Ramos for Alaves game

9:28 AM EDT 4/1/17
Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid
The defender has been given the weekend off as Zinedine Zidane's side face nine fixtures during a busy month after the international break

Sergio Ramos will not be selected by Real Madrid for their home match against Alaves on Sunday, Zinedine Zidane confirmed as his team prepares for the Liga run-in.

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Ramos played twice for Spain during the international break and Zidane's squad rotation continues with league leaders Real Madrid facing nine fixtures during a busy April.

Barcelona have announced Gerard Pique will not face Granada on Sunday and the centre-back's international partner Ramos is also being given the weekend off.

"Sergio is going to rest and that's a decision by the boss," Zidane told reporters at his pre-match press conference. "He has played a lot and all the players here are very important.

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"Cristiano [Ronaldo] has four yellow cards. But we do not look at that. It's important he plays as always. We will see how we manage it. I hope he stays with four until the end of the season.

"We have a lot of games this month. We are going to need all the players and we are ready for the final stretch. It's the same as always, they are all important and everyone knows that they are important, sure there will be some who will play more than others, but what I value is that everyone works and contributes every day until the end of the season.

"We know that there is a final stretch where everything is played and we are prepared for the two challenges: LaLiga and Champions League."

Zidane was repeatedly asked about Pique's latest comments about Madrid, in which he questioned the club's values, but the Frenchman opted not to get involved.

"Pique talks, then I can say something, then it goes back and forth," Zidane said. "I don't get into this. Madrid is a big club, serious club.

"With two words, the subject is over, I cannot tell you any more. Let me always answer the same. I hope it's the last question, because I'm going to answer the same thing."

Real Madrid legend Raul has confirmed he would be interested in a return to the club where he won three Champions League titles as a player and Zidane would welcome his former team-mate at the Bernabeu.

"He's an iconic player. I am delighted if he can do something big here. I don't know when, but this is his home," Zidane said of Raul, who is LaLiga's country manager for the United States.

"Raul could easily end up here as a coach. He is obsessed with football too and could end up coaching. But who knows when."

Barcelona are yet to appoint a replacement for the departing Luis Enrique but when asked by reporters Zidane confirmed he would never consider working for Madrid's arch rivals, saying: "No - and now you have tomorrow's front page."