Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane left top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo at home for his side’s Liga game away to basement club Malaga on Sunday, also resting Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Raphael Varane.
Ronaldo has been rested for four of Real’s last five away games in La Liga in order to stay sharp for their Champions League games, missing their trips to Leganes, Espanyol and their last outing against Las Palmas.
The plan has paid dividends as Ronaldo has scored in all 10 of Madrid’s European games this season.
This includes striking the decisive injury-time penalty in the 3-1 defeat to Juventus on Wednesday which sent them into the semi-finals 4-3 on aggregate.
Champions Madrid are fourth in the Liga standings with 64 points and a win at Malaga, rock bottom with 17 points and 14 adrift from safety, would lift Zidane’s side above Valencia and up to third.