Bale ruled out of Champions League game against Bayern

Tuesday, 18 Apr, 2017

Isco's outstanding performance saved Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane from paying a heavy price for resting nearly all his first-choice players, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, for important matches against Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Later, Lionel Messi kept Barcelona's title hopes alive with two goals and an assist to see off Real Sociedad 3-2 as Spain's top two edged five-goal thrillers ahead of this weekend's El Clasico.

"It will be more hard in Madrid, but we still have a chance, we are still alive", Ancelotti said ahead of his return to the Spanish club he left in 2015.

Before that game, both rivals will play the return legs of their Champions League quarterfinals.

Madrid endured a nervous game too, which was eventually settled by Isco at the death.

Although Zidane's men had more than two-thirds of possession running in their favour at the interval, it was again the hosts who took the initiative after the restart as Vesga got on the scoresheet.

"[Isco] has been really great, he's quite pleased with his targets but more for the result for the team", said Marcelo.

"The fans will be more important than ever", Zidane said on Monday.

The Spaniard then broke the deadlock at the death with a strike from the edge of the penalty area.

Zinedine Zidane will look forward to heavily rotate his squad against Sporting, as Madrid approach their make or break week of the season. Sometimes the media misinterpret what you say, to sell papers.

It was Sporting that made the breakthrough in the 14th minute when Cop allowed a wonderful pass from Mikel Vesga to drop straight onto his left foot, and the striker's volley found a route past Kiko Casilla in the Real Madrid goal.

Only captain Sergio Ramos and Fernandez Nacho retained their places as James Rodriguez, Lucas Vazquez, Morata and Marco Asensio all coming in along with Portuguese defender Fabio Coentrao for a rare start.

Now 24, Isco was supposed to be the future of Madrid's midfield when he transferred from Malaga in 2013.

Zidane made nine changes from the side that won the first leg 2-1, with keeper Keylor Navas, Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale - who is an injury doubt - not even named on the bench for the Sporting game. Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Partey were the latest to see efforts saved and it proved that Los Rojiblancos have not turned a corner when it comes to spot kicks.

Deportivo moved away from the drop zone with its first win in five rounds.