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Gareth Bale out of Real trip to Athletic Bilbao, Sergio Ramos returns with mask

Published in Spain Primera Division
Saturday, 02 December 2017 12:03

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Saturday's La Liga game at Athletic Bilbao, coach Zinedine Zidane said on Friday, after the Wales international picked up yet another injury on his return to action on Tuesday after 63 days out.

The French coach also added that captain Sergio Ramos will play wearing a protective mask after breaking his nose in the Madrid derby a fortnight ago.
Bale came on in the 62nd minute of the King's Cup last-32 second leg match against Fuenlabrada and had an immediate impact, setting up two goals for team mate Borja Mayoral in a 2-2 draw, with Real progressing 4-2 on aggregate.

Any hopes that this would be the start of a comeback from Bale were quickly dashed the following day, however, with reports he had been ruled out of the game with Athletic with another calf injury.
"It's not much, just discomfort, but as he's been out for so long it's difficult, I hope it's just a physical problem and is only discomfort," Zidane told a news conference on Friday.

"He needs to be with the team, train with the team and feel like another member of the squad. We keep telling him this, that this is a tough time for him but he'll come out of it, and we'll keep supporting him until he is better."

Bale played a pivotal role in Real's Champions League wins in 2014 and 2016 as well as winning the King's Cup final against Barcelona in 2014 with a remarkable sprint down the touchline and finish.

However, he missed most of last season's Liga and Champions League double win with a series of injuries.
"We can't forget what he has done for the team. When he is fit he is phenomenal, so we need to be patient with him," Zidane added.

Real are fourth in the league standings but cut the deficit with leaders Barcelona to eight points last week and face an Athletic side in crisis.

The Basque side, the only team along with Barca and Real to have never been relegated from the top flight, are two places above the relegation zone. They are also reeling from a humiliating King's Cup exit to Formentera on Wednesday which lead to their usually loyal fans booing the team off the pitch.

"The atmosphere won't benefit us, their fans will support their team as they always do and even more so when they host Real Madrid," added Zidane.

"It's going to be a difficult game, we're going to have to fight."

Gareth Bale makes difference as Real Madrid struggle

Published in Football
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 11:39

Copa del Rey round of 32 second leg, Santiago Bernabeu - Real Madrid 2 (Mayoral 61', 69') Fuenlabrada 2 (Milla 24', Portilla 88')

Real Madrid were made to work hard for their place in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey, with Fuenlabrada pushing Zinedine Zidane’s side all the way, claiming a 2-2 second leg draw at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Spanish and European champions might have been expected to coast through the second leg of this tie, having won the first leg comfortably 2-0. But this was anything but comfortable. In fact, Fuenlabrada could claim to have been the better side over the 90 minutes.

Having threatened for much of the first half, they took the lead after 24 minutes, making the most of some slack defensive play from the hosts. The introduction of Gareth Bale off the bench proved a turning point, with the Welshman putting on two assists as Real Madrid finally took a grip of things.

Fuenlabrada netted a late equaliser to underline just how close they’d pushed Real Madrid, but ultimately it did little to affect the final outcome. However, Zidane will be concerned by the nature of his side’s performance.

TALKING POINT - Trying to make sense of the Real Madrid support’s difficult relationship with Gareth Bale

Making his long-awaited return from injury, Bale was booed by his own fans as he entered the Santiago Bernabeu pitch. Within 60 seconds, he had provided the assist that got Real Madrid out of a rather deep hole. Indeed, the Welsh winger proved to be the difference for Real, so what’s the reason behind his difficult relationship with the club’s support? Injuries have been a frustration, but Bale always delivers. What more can he do?

MAN OF THE MATCH - Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)

The dynamic of the game completely changed with the introduction of Bale off the bench in the second half. Up until then, Real Madrid had struggled for a spark in the final third of the pitch. In fact, they’d struggled to reach the final third of the pitch at all. But Bale gave them the pace and directness needed to expose Fuenlabrada, putting on two assists. In the space of just 30 minutes, the Welshman underlined his quality.
PLAYER RATINGS

Real Madrid - Navas 4, Achraf 6, Nacho 5, Tejero 5, Theo 5, Feuillassier 5, Llorente 6, Kovacic 6, Oscar 5, Mayoral 7, Ceballos 6. Subs - Bale 8.

Fuenlabrada - Pol 6, Isma 5, Diaz 6, Juanma 6, Fran 6, Milla 7, Cristobal 5, Bravo 6, Yaw 5, Matheus 7, Fraile 7.

KEY MOMENTS

4’ WHAT A CHANCE! That should have been an opener for Fuenlabrada. The ball was played to the penalty spot from the byline, but somehow Fraile managed to put his shot over the bar.

7’ ANOTHER SITTER! Well, this is quite something. Fuenlabrada are cutting open Real Madrid, this time Tejero shoots straight at Navas after breaking the hosts' offside trap. What a chance.

24’ GOAL! Real Madrid 0-1 Fuenlabrada: Incredible! Little Fuenlabrada have taken the lead at the Santiago Bernabeu! Milla takes aim from 25 yards, strikes the bar, with the ball ending up in the net via Navas. Wow!

63’ FUENLABRADA OFF THE BAR! This is sensational! Now Fuenlabrada hit the woodwork through Diaz, who directed a header towards goal from a freekick. The away side have Real Madrid on the ropes.

65’ GOAL! Real Madrid 1-1 Fuenlabrada: And that's surely the goal that will settle things for Real Madrid. Bale played a wonderful outside of the boot cross to Mayoral, who made no mistake in heading home from close range.

70’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-1 Fuenlabrada: It's the same combination for Real Madrid with Bale seeing his initial shot saved, only for Mayoral to pick up the loose ball and finish low into the opposition net.

89’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-2 Fuenlabrada: An equaliser for Fuenlabrada! It's too late for them to make a real fightback, but Portilla sticks away a finish at the second attempt after some really slack defensive play from Real Madrid.

KEY STATS

Gareth Bale played the assist for Borja Mayoral’s first goal with his very first touch of the match after coming off the bench.

Mayoral has scored three goals in his three starts for Real Madrid this season in all competitions.

Gareth Bale suffers fresh injury, set to miss several weeks

Published in Spain Primera Division
Saturday, 11 November 2017 11:11

Real Madrid have confirmed that forward Gareth Bale has suffered a fresh thigh injury in training.

Bale had only just returned to training and he had previously been pencilled in for a return in the derby against Atletico Madrid after the international break.

However on Friday Real released a statement saying that he had suffered a new injury, to the thigh, and would now be assessed over the coming days.
The expectation in Spain is that he will miss several weeks and he may not play again in 2017.

It is yet another injury blow for Bale who has not played for Real since late September.

Amongst other matches he has missed the home and away games against former club Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League as well as Wales' crucial qualifying game against the Republic of Ireland.

The statement in full read - "Our player Gareth Bale, who felt some discomfort in his left leg at the end of Thursday's training session, today underwent various tests carried out by the Real Madrid Sanitas medical team. He has been diagnosed with a strain to the middle third of the abductor longus muscle in his left leg. His recovery will continue to be assessed."

Zinedine Zidane unsure when injured Gareth Bale will return

Published in Spain Primera Division
Saturday, 14 October 2017 10:52

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said on Friday he does not know when Gareth Bale will return from his latest calf problem as he faced repeated questions about the Wales international's future at the European champions.

Bale sustained the injury towards the end Real's 3-1 win at Borussia Dortmund on Sept. 26 in which he had played a starring role to answer many of his critics in the Spanish media.

It was the eighth time he had damaged his left calf muscle since joining Real from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 and his 10th calf problem since he moved to Spain.

Real originally said Bale's fitness problems in Dortmund were related to cramp and allowed him to go on international duty with Wales.
Scans, however, soon revealed he had injured his calf and forced him out of Wales's World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Ireland.

Real later released a medical report stating Bale had a swollen calf but had not torn the muscle.

It did not give an estimated date for his return, and Zidane was unable to clarify the situation.

"I can't say when he'll be back, but he's better, I can't say if he'll return in a week or 10 days, we'll have to see," Zidane told a news conference on Friday ahead of Real's visit to Getafe in La Liga.

"He's getting better every day. He had two problems, one in Dortmund when he only seemed a bit worn out, and then he had a different problem with his calf. Now we have to take it easy with him and be patient."
Bale is ruled out of Saturday's short trip to Getafe and unlikely to feature against former side Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on Tuesday, while he is also a doubt for the return game against Mauricio Pochettino's side on Nov. 1.

Real are fifth in the Liga standings, seven points behind leaders Barcelona.

Bale, 28, has missed a third of Real's games since he joined the club in a then world record move for 100 million euros ($118 million).

He had to watch most of last season's Liga and Champions League winning double campaign from the sidelines due to a long lay off with an ankle injury and subsequent calf problems and later said he regretted rushing back too early after surgery on his ankle.

"Bale is the one who is most upset about this because he hates to be away from the team. I hope he returns quickly and plays like he did in Dortmund," Zidane said.

Gareth Bale ruled out of Wales qualifiers

Published in England Premier League
Wednesday, 04 October 2017 07:47

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wales’ final two World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland with injury.

Bale missed Real’s game over the weekend against Espanyol having picked up a calf injury against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

Bale was named in the Wales squad but he has now been ruled out of the international break and will miss both qualifiers.
The news come as a huge blow to Wales’ chance of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

They travel to Georgia on Friday before facing Ireland in Cardiff three days later.

Wales are currently second in Group D, one point ahead of Ireland and four points behind Serbia.

Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo rampant as Real Madrid ease past Dortmund

Published in Champions League
Wednesday, 27 September 2017 08:37

Champions League Group H, Signal Iduna Park - Borussia Dortmund 1 (Aubameyang 54') Real Madrid 3 (Bale 18'; Cristiano Ronaldo 49', 79')

Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a brace on his 400th appearance for Real Madrid as the holders triumphed 3-1 at Borussia Dortmund in a highly entertaining Champions League Group H encounter.

The Portuguese star tucked home his first when he converted Gareth Bale's low cross to double Los Blancos' advantage after the Welshman had opened the scoring with a sublime first-half volley.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reduced the arrears with a clinical finish, but Ronaldo had the final say 11 minutes from time as Zinedine Zidane's side found the net for 38th Champions League game in a row and secured a first ever triumph at Signal Iduna Park at the seventh time of asking.
Dortmund carved out some good openings, but struggled to apply the finish to some fine approach work. Die Schwarzgelben remain pointless after two games played and already face a real battle to reach the knockout stage. Real have a 100 per cent record and sit top of the group, ahead of Tottenham on goal difference after Harry Kane fired the Lilywhites to victory in Cyprus.

Next up in this group, Dortmund visit Apoel Nicosia while Real host Tottenham on October 17.
TALKING POINT

The holders could go all the way - again. Real Madrid tend to save their very best for this competition - and there's no doubt that's the case with Ronaldo. It's early days, but Zidane's men are already seven points adrift of leaders Barcelona in La Liga, which could see them place even greater emphasis on this competition if that doesn't improve in the months ahead. That doesn't bode well for their rivals considering Los Blancos won both last term. The 12-time champions have the players with the know-how and could well go on to become the first team since Bayern in 1976 to claim three successive European Cups. They remain the team to beat in this competition.
MAN OF THE MATCH

Gareth Bale (Real Madrid). It was a match full of superb displays all over the park and, while Ronaldo will bask in the headlines, Bale gets the nod for a sensational opener and his assist for the Portuguese's first of the night. The Welshman continues to have his troubles at the Bernabeu, but there's no denying his quality and penchant for the big stage.
PLAYER RATINGS

DORTMUND: Burki 7; Piszczek 6, Sokratis 6, Toprak 6, Tolian 6; Castro 7, Sahin 5; Gotze 7, Yarmolenko 6, Philipp 6; Aubameyang 7. Subs: Weigl 6, Dahoud 6,Pulisic 5.

REAL MADRID: Navas 6, Carvajal 7, Ramos 7, Varane 7, Nacho 6, Kroos 8, Casemiro 7, Modrić 8, Isco 7, Bale 8, Ronaldo 8. Subs: Asensio 6, Vazquez n/a, Ceballos n/a.

Matchcast: Full match stats and commentary

KEY MOMENTS

10' - REAL CHANCE. Dortmund caught out on the break once more. Carvajal motors down the right, cuts inside his man and then fires a weak shot towards the near post that Burki is equal to Ronaldo and Bale were on hand for a tap-in and neither are very happy with the Real right back.

18' GOAL! Dortmund 0-1 Real. Bale guides a sublime volley into the top corner from Carvajal's diagonal ball to the left side of the box.

27' - Penalty shout for Dortmund! The hosts surge forward through Andriy Yarmolenko. He lifts a cross over Aubameyang, but Philipp arrives and sees his volley into the six-yard box cleared. Replays showing Navas palmed the ball onto Ramos' hand.

49' GOAL! Dortmund 0-2 Real. Ronaldo marks his 400th appearance for the club with a sweeping finish after Bale had raced down the left and put it on a plate for his teammate.
54' GOAL! Dortmund 1-2 Real. Aubameyang reduces the arrears with a smart finish from Castro's lovely left-wing delivery.

67' - DORTMUND CHANCE. Aubameyang beats Navas to Goetze's delightful curving pass, but can only toe it wide of the near post.

79' GOAL! Dortmund 1-3 Real. Ronaldo smashes his second of the contest past Burki at his near post after a lovely through pass from Modric.
KEY STATS

Gareth Bale has been involved in more goals than any other Real Madrid player in 2017/18 (3 goals and 4 assists - all comps).

Ronaldo has now scored in 70 different Champions League matches (excl. qualifiers); more than any other player.

Ronaldo scored his 112th goal in all European competitions and his 109th in the UCL, both are records.

Ronaldo marked his 400th app for Real Madrid with his 411th goal - he has scored in 249 of his 400 games for the club.

Zinedine Zidane: We're starting to see the real Gareth Bale

Published in Spain Primera Division
Monday, 18 September 2017 09:33

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane was full of praise for Gareth Bale after the Welshman netted the third goal in the 3-1 win over Real Sociedad.

The former Tottenham man was booed at times during Wednesday's home Champions League win over Apoel Nicosia after an indifferent spell, but Zidane had backed Bale to hit top form again following last year's injury.

The 28-year-old responded by using his blistering speed to collect a long Isco ball over the top and coolly chip in his second goal of the season, and Zidane is certain there is more to come.
"He's had a great game and not just because of the goal," he told a post-match press conference. "I'm happy he scored because he needed it. It wasn't easy, after running 70 metres, he finished very well and I am happy for him.

"He's not playing at his best but little by little we'll find the real Gareth. I know he can do much better and we have to be patient. He is happy with his goal, it's a weight off of his shoulders. But he has also worked hard defensively."
"I just keep my head down, keep working hard, that is all I can do. I cannot control what goes on, I can just control my own game on the pitch.

" You go through ups and downs in your career, it is about how you bounce back. "
Earlier in the game, Borja Mayoral, 20, had opened his Real Madrid account and then provided the cross for Kevin Rodrigues to turn into his own net after the La Real full-back had levelled at the other end.

Mayoral's goal meant Los Blancos had scored in 73 consecutive games, equalling the record set between November 1961 and August 1963 by a Santos side containing Pele.

"We showed character to get the win because it's not an easy place to come," added Zidane. "Real Sociedad have had a good start to the season. We played 90 minutes at a great level, especially the first half. Bale and Borja's goals gave us the victory but it was achieved by the whole group.
"We must congratulate the players for the run of 73 consecutive games scoring. They are the ones who run, fight and have achieve this record. We can keep the run going in the coming games. But for me the most important thing is the victory and how we got it. We played very well from the start."
Real broke a run of two consecutive draws in LaLiga with their win at Anoeta and now sit fourth in the table, four points behind leaders Barcelona.

Bale may be running out of time at Real Madrid

Published in England Premier League
Tuesday, 29 August 2017 09:43

Change happens in the blink of an eye at Real Madrid and time may be running out for Gareth Bale.

The Welsh forward netted the team's first goal of the league season against Deportivo La Coruna as the European champions put in a commanding performance to win 3-0 on the opening weekend.

Seven days later, however, Bale was whistled off by fans at the Santiago Bernabeu after Zinedine Zidane substituted Madrid's record signing against Valencia with the scores level at 1-1 as they chased a winner in the final 15 minutes.

The supporters were frustrated at Bale's limp display in which he missed a clear chance when he headed the ball into the ground and over the bar as Los Blancos failed to turn their superiority into goals and drew 2-2.

While Bale struggled, the Bernabeu's new darling Marco Asensio shone. The 21-year-old winger scored both Madrid's goals, continuing his blistering start to the season.

Bale, who apart from his strike against Deportivo, has offered little in the league or either of Madrid's Super Cup wins, has been singled out for criticism by fans and media alike.
Zidane is renowned for his man management and avoided putting pressure or blame on Bale.

"He is an important player in this squad," Zidane told reporters. "Gareth is Gareth. We will keep working, and keep counting on Gareth, like all the others. That's all."

However, it is difficult not to look past the French coach's words and Madrid-based newspaper Marca published a column on Monday headlined "Five days to sell Bale".

The article said Madrid should "take advantage of the good press Bale has in Britain and take advantage of the crazy, runaway and false transfer market".

Bale has always insisted he wants to stay at Madrid, happy to finally take part in a pre-season campaign, something he has been denied in previous years due to injury.

"I'm happy I'm playing football, I'm winning trophies, so yeah, I don't want to move. There's not really much more I can say," Bale said.

However, if Madrid take action, he may not be afforded much say in the matter. Premier League clubs would jump at the chance to bring him back to England and with Asensio demonstrating his quality, Bale is no longer essential at the Bernabeu.

He helped Real win their first league title in five years last season, as well as three Champions League crowns since joining them in 2013, a strong trophy haul which would ensure he could depart with his head held high.

Champions League: Gareth Bale "not 100 per cent" fit for Real Madrid's final against Juventus

Published in Spain Primera Division
Wednesday, 31 May 2017 11:29

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale says he regrets rushing back from ankle surgery earlier in the season and admits he is not fully fit for the Champions League final against Juventus in his home city of Cardiff.

Bale missed almost three months with an ankle injury he suffered in November against Sporting Lisbon and has spent the last six weeks recovering from two separate calf problems. He said he was not yet fully recovered and appeared resigned to not starting what should have been a dream final.

"I'm not 100 percent," Bale told reporters on Tuesday. "I haven't played in six or seven weeks. I had my ankle operation, which still hasn't really recovered. I'd been in a lot of pain in training and have taken tablets to get through games.
"Obviously, any surgery is difficult, but in the middle of a season it's always that bit more difficult. You want to come back as soon as possible. In hindsight, I should have stayed out a bit longer and let it heal and strengthen. But obviously that wasn't the case. I'll live and I'll learn."

Bale has won two Champions Leagues with Real, scoring in the 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid in Lisbon in 2014 and converting a penalty in the shoot-out victory over Atletico in Milan in 2016.

The question of whether Zinedine Zidane will field Bale at the Millenium Stadium or high-flying Spanish midfielder Isco has dominated the Spanish media before Saturday's final, where Real are bidding to become the first team to successfully defend the European Cup since AC Milan in 1990.

Bale said he would accept whatever decision Zidane made. Isco, who has scored five goals and notched three assists in his last eight games, was in a strong position to start ahead of him, he said.
"If I'm called upon to start, I will start, obviously. But to last 90 minutes - I haven't played a lot of football this year since my operation, so that would be difficult," said Bale, who joined Real from Tottenham Hotspur for a then-world record 100 million euros in 2013.

"Isco has been playing fantastically well for us in the end of the season, so whatever the manager decides I will .

"Obviously, if I am picked to start, I will start. If not, I will be doing that as well. It has been quite a difficult year for me, with injuries. I've been very unlucky with my ankle to require surgery, so it has been very frustrating.

"Now I feel finally it is healing. It is right there, almost at 100 percent, but whatever the manager requires of me I will be there to do it."

Gareth Bale back in training with Real Madrid ahead of Clasico

Published in Spain Primera Division
Saturday, 22 April 2017 10:37

Gareth Bale returned to first-team training with Real Madrid on Thursday, with the club hoping he will be fit in time for the Clasico on Sunday.

The Welsh forward sustained a calf injury during last week's 2-1 Champions League victory against Bayern Munich, forcing him to sit out the return leg this week, which Madrid won 4-2 (6-3 on aggregate).

Bale was replaced by Isco in the Champions League victory, which saw Real progress to the semi-finals, as well as Saturday's win over Sporting Gijon.
Though Isco's performances led to calls for his retention in the starting XI, Real will be hoping Bale is match fit for their all important Clasico match against Barcelona.

Real have won the Clasico just twice since Bale joined Los Blancos in 2013 while Barcelona, who trail Real by three points in La Liga, have won four times. In their last Liga meeting, the score was a 1-1 draw.

Real are without defenders Pepe and Raphael Varane on Sunday at the Bernabeu.

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