Thursday 22 March 2018

Gareth Bale a major doubt for Champions League semi-final

Ronaldo faces a late fitness test while Bale has been ruled out of tonight's match
Ronaldo faces a late fitness test while Bale has been ruled out of tonight's match

Jack de Menezes

Real Madrid could go into their Champions League semi-final first leg with Bayern Munich without Gareth Bale after the Welshman was kept away from the rest of the squad having suffered a bout of flu on the eve of the Santiago Bernabeu clash.

The rest of the squad stayed together at the club’s private hotel at the Valdebebas training ground but Bale, who scored the winner in the 2-1 Copa del Rey victory over Barcelona last week, had complained of nausea and was kept isolated from his Real team-mates.

Should Bale miss out, Angel Di Maria will join Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in an attacking trio, although there are still questions over the fitness of Ronaldo having not played since the quarter-final first leg win over Borussia Dortmund at the beginning of the month. The Portuguese faces a fitness test ahead of tonight’s match, but Carlo Ancelotti will be desperate to have at least two of his in-form BBC combination available, and the loss of both Bale and Ronaldo would leave Benzema isolated in the lone striker role.

Should Bale miss out on the squad completely, it will come as a huge blow for the Italian manager who has spent the pre-match build-up to the crucial tie with the reigning Champions League holders talking up the talents of the £86m signing.

Speaking ahead of the match against Pep Guardiola’s side, Ancelotti said: “Gareth is quite happy.

“He is motivated with a lot of confidence after a goal like the goal he scored against Barcelona in the final. I don’t think the goal will scare Bayern but a goal like this will always bring more confidence.

“He had a few problems in the beginning but he was comfortable with everyone at the club from the moment he started to train. Now he is really good. He has scored a lot of goals. He plays for the team.

“He is going to improve next season. When he starts to train with us in the summer he will not have to play at the World Cup. I think next season he will be better. We can be really happy for next season.”

The meeting with Bayern represents Bale’s biggest stage so far in his still-young career, having reached the Champions League quarter-finals with Tottenham in 2010-11 when, coincidentally, Real Madrid eliminated Spurs via a 5-0 aggregate thrashing.

Bale has pushed on in recent weeks, scoring six goals in six games which included a double against Rayo Vallecano as well as a goal against Dortmund and the cup-winner against Barcelona, in which the 24-year-old sprinted over half the pitch and even ran into the technical area to get around defender Marc Batra before slotting the ball beneath Jose Pinto to clinch the trophy for Real.

Online Editors

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