Zidane defends Real rotation: 'It might seem brave, but for me it is normal'
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane denied he had taken a risk by rotating his XI heavily for Wednesday evening's rollercoaster 4-2 win at neighbours Leganes.
Kicking off the game in second spot after Barcelona's 3-0 win over Sevilla earlier in the evening, Madrid were themselves three goals up inside 23 minutes thanks to James Rodriguez and an Alvaro Morata double. Leganes did not give up though and got it back to 3-2 by half-time thanks to strikes from Brazilian pair Gabriel and Luciano.
Morata then completed his hat trick to give Madrid more breathing space and Zidane's side remain two points clear of Barcelona at the top, with a game in hand, while key stars including Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale got rests ahead of huge looming games against Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barca.
The Blancos coach told the post-game news conference that changing so many players was not so brave considering the quality of back-ups he had to call upon.
"For you it might seem brave, but for me it is normal," Zidane said. "I see them training every week, and when choosing the team I have the possibility to change many players.
"It's true that when you change many players, for a game like this, you can be happy with how it works out. But more than being brave, I have a very good squad."
Asensio, 20, was Madrid's outstanding performer over the 90 minutes, and Zidane said that the youngster and other squad players would get more chances to show their worth before the end of the campaign.
"Marco played a great game," he said. "We know what he can do. But all the players make it difficult for me when picking the team. That is why they are there, they are all such good players.
"It will be like that until the end, we will need all the players. We are all in the same boat, doing important things, but we still have some time to go yet."
Colombia international James banged the back of the dugout after being withdrawn early, on a rare start in La Liga. But Zidane said he understood the frustration and would not be taking any extra action.
"We did not speak about it, but it is normal when you come off," Zidane said. "You want to play the 90 minutes. So these things can happen. But it's over now. I will remember just that he played a good game.
"I have nothing against James, just the opposite. He comes off often in games, that is true. But when you make changes it is normal that they come off -- it also happens with Karim [Benzema]."
Zidane admitted he was not happy with the "lack of concentration" which let Leganes back into the game before half-time, and that such dips during a game could cost them if committed in other games.
"We started the game very well, scored three goals, and the game changed in two minutes," he said. "It is not just that we can make a mistake, but letting in two quick goals is a lack of concentration.
"But we controlled the second half better, scored the fourth goal, and we must forget those two minutes which could end up costing you dearly. I am not worried about it, we can improve again."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan