REAL MADRID winger Gareth Bale could miss tonight's Champions League semi-final, first leg at home to Bayern Munich due to illness.
Bale, the world's most expensive footballer, who has been suffering from flu, trained with the rest of the squad earlier yesterday but had not been able to join up with them later at their hotel. Real medical staff had recommended he remain at home to avoid infecting his team mates.
After a season disrupted by a series of minor injuries, Wales international Bale has come into form in recent months and scored a brilliant winning goal against Barcelona in last week's King's Cup final. Bale is not the only worry for Real as coach Carlo Ancelotti insists he will not risk Cristiano Ronaldo tonight if the forward has not fully recovered from injury.
The prolific Portuguese has not played any competitive football since Madrid's 3-0 quarter-final first-leg win over Borussia Dortmund on April 2, coming off in the 80th minute of that match with an injury to his left knee.
The forward had to miss the return leg in Dortmund and last week's Copa del Rey final win due to a subsequent hamstring problem, but returned to full training on Monday. He will have a late fitness test before tonight's clash.
Last year Barcelona fielded Lionel Messi against Bayern in a Champions League semi-final when the striker had not fully recovered from a hamstring problem, but Ancelotti vowed not to take any chances with Ronaldo, who is the top scorer in this season's competition with 14 goals in nine matches.
"Cristiano trained normally today, he's trained well in the last few days and tomorrow he's going to have more tests and then we'll make our decision," Ancelotti said.
"If everyone is certain he can play without any problems at all, then of course he will play."
The Italian coach hinted he might opt against starting Ronaldo at the Bernabeu, with next week's return game at the Allianz Arena in mind.
He added: "If there's any risk of a relapse he won't play. We may be able to gain an advantage from the home leg, but the really decisive game is next Tuesday in Munich."
Midfielder Xabi Alonso added: "Cristiano will play if he's 100 per cent fit, that is a decision he, the medical staff and the coach will take.
"He's vital for the team. He gives us explosive play and an ability to create chances and score goals, he's a fundamental player. But if he doesn't play the team can still perform, as we saw in the Copa del Rey final."
It would be a major blow to Real's hopes against the holders if both Bale and Ronaldo are ruled out.