Lopetegui announces that Mariano is drawing in Real Madrid

Lopetegui announces that Mariano is drawing in Real Madrid

The striker was not a substitute after his return match in Real Bilbao, but the coach had a reason not to visit him

Real Madrid head coach Julen Lopetegui said he left Mariano Diaz in the 1-1 draw at Athletic Club, saying he needed to replace Gareth Bale.

Mariano was among the substitute players on Saturday in San Mames, but remained unused because Madrid could not finish the comeback in the second half.

Isco came off the bench to equalize, but Lopetegui beat Mariano, who returned to Madrid after a Ligue 1 season with Lyon last month, and the club's sole striker after selling Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus has been.

Lucas Vazquez and Casemiro were instead replaced by Lopetegui as a substitute who explained his decisions after Madrid had lost league points for the first time in his reign.

"Mariano could have been an option," Lopetegui said at a post-match press conference. "But we thought Bale needed a replacement in this wing and Lucas did well.

"If there is an international break, every player has to be analyzed."

Luka Modric cleared the way for goalscorer Isco and Lopetegui conceded the midfielder, who after winning the Golden Ball for his World Cup appearances in Croatia until the final with Inter was connected.

"Luka had a complex summer for many reasons," admitted Lopetegui.

"He has enough time and a very good level and he is back, otherwise we will not fool him.

"He is ready to have a very good season, I have no doubt, despite all the circumstances that have surrounded his summer."

With Modric in muted form, Toni Kroos also appeared to be in midfield before Casemiro was introduced to reinforce the Madrid core.

Kroos, however, brought the pass, which led Bale through the right wing to the goal of Isco, and Lopetegui defended his bet against the German international.

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"It's a position he has already played in Germany and here too," said former coach of Kroos Spain.

"He did well, but it's also true that Athletic fit very well in the first half and demanded a lot from us.

"With Casemiro's entry he has taken a step forward in his position and has also influenced the result for the team."

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