Soccer-Real's Zidane brands fixture scheduling 'crazy'

MADRID, Nov 20 (Reuters) - The fixture pile-up affecting Europe’s top clubs is “crazy”, according to Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

Speaking ahead of the club’s visit to Villarreal -- their first match in a series of 10 across 33 days -- the Frenchman let his feelings be known.

“All I can say is that I look at the calendar and it’s too much,” he told a news conference.

“I think of the health of the players and nothing else - and they never stop. I’m not speaking only about my players, but I’m worried for them.

“I don’t want to get involved, at the end of the day there are people there who do the fixtures, but I’m very worried. It’s crazy.”

Zidane will be without captain Sergio Ramos for the visit to second-placed Villarreal, who sit two points above Real having played a game more, after the defender picked up a hamstring injury on international duty, which is likely to rule him out for the next 10 days.

“I can just tell you what I feel (about the situation). We need to try and give the players rest, yes, but we know that not everyone is available so we need to balance that out,” he said.

Ramos’s defensive partner Raphael Varane will undergo a late fitness test, with Zidane admitting he is “not 100 percent fit”.

Yet defender Eder Militao, midfielder Casemiro and playmaker Eden Hazard are all back after returning negative COVID-19 tests, having tested positive before the international break.

Defenders Nacho and Dani Carvajal are also in contention.

“We don’t know how fit everyone is, but they’re getting there. Eden and Militao’s situations are a bit different. They trained at home (during self-isolation).

“Nacho and Carvajal have been with the group for longer, and we need the group together because every game is important for us. We can’t rest on our laurels because we’re up against a tough side.”

Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli Editing by Toby Davis