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Zidane ignores Pique distractions for title run-in

Real Madrid’s head coach Zinedine Zidane, seen ahead of their UEFA Champions League match against Napoli, at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, on March 7, 2017

MADRID, Spain, April 1 -Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane refused to rise to Barcelona defender Gerard Pique’s bait ahead of his side’s return to action at home to Alaves on Saturday.

Pique dominated headlines in Spain over the past week by launching an attack on Madrid’s “values”.

The Spanish international cited tax fraud cases against Barcelona teammates Neymar and Lionel Messi and claimed that Real had “pulled strings” to avoid punishment for their players in similar circumstances.

However, Zidane insisted Madrid can’t play into Barca’s hands by being distracted whilst in pole position for a first La Liga title in five years.

“This is a very big and serious club and we are only thinking about the game tomorrow,” said Zidane.

“We have nine games in 28 days. That means we will need everyone and we are prepared for the run-in.”

Real lead Barca by two points at the top of La Liga and have a game in hand with 11 matches to play.

After their verbal jousting whilst on international duty with Spain both Pique and Madrid captain Sergio Ramos will not be in action this weekend as both have been rested.

“It is my decision. He has played a lot and tomorrow he will rest,” added Zidane.

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However, Real are boosted at centre-back by the return from injury of Raphael Varane.

Defensive midfielder Casemiro misses out due to suspension, but Alaves are also missing the heartbeat of their midfield as Marcos Llorente can’t feature as part of his loan deal from Madrid.

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