Things Change, I’m Now Counting On Bale – Zidane

Gareth Bale, Zinedine Zidane

 

Zinedine Zidane has admitted Gareth Bale is back in his plans ahead of Real Madrid’s opening La Liga game of the season against Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Eden Hazard sustained a thigh injury in training on Friday, meaning Bale could even start against Celta following a turbulent summer for the Welshman.

Zidane was keen for Bale to be sold but Madrid cancelled a deal with Chinese club Jiangsu Suning while the winger’s salary of around 18 million euros a year has proven too high for other interested clubs.

Bale is also eager to stay at Madrid, where he has a contract until 2022, and is not interested in moving to Paris Saint-Germain, despite suggestions he could be included in a bid for Neymar.

“It looked like he was leaving and now he’s here with us, that’s it,” Zidane said.

“The dynamic changes and things change and now I’m going to count on him like everyone else. I said it a short time ago, I’m going to count on all the players that are here.”

Zidane left Bale out of his squad for three consecutive pre-season friendlies but the 30-year-old returned for the last game against Roma, when he came off the bench in the second half.

The transfer window in Spain closes on September 2.

“He has a contract, he’s an important player and I hope all the players want to make it difficult for me to pick the team,” Zidane added.

Zidane had promised wholesale changes this summer and his first press conference of the season was dominated by questions about the transfer window.

He refused to be drawn on a move for Neymar, insisting: “Neymar is not a Real Madrid player. We are interested in the players that are here.”

And on the failed attempt to buy Paul Pogba from Manchester United, he said: “Paul is a player for Manchester United and we have to respect that. Here we are thinking about the game tomorrow.”

But Madrid’s failure to sign Pogba and sell either Bale or James Rodriguez means the club’s president Florentino Perez has perhaps not delivered the sort of changes Zidane had hoped for.

“It’s not about whether it’s positive or negative,” Zidane said. “I accept what I have. We’ve talked with the people that have to do those things and it is the games now that interest us.”

Zidane said James is fit and ready to be involved against Celta. “He is in shape and I’m glad to have him,” Zidane said.

But Hazard is expected to be out for three to four weeks and joins Ferland Mendy, who is recovering from a calf problem, and Marco Asensio, who has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, on the sidelines.

Messi And Bale Benched For Copa Clasico At Camp Nou

Real Madrid’s Brazilian defender Marcelo (C) and Barcelona’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez talk at the end of the Spanish Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) semi-final first leg football match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on February 6, 2019. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale were both left on the bench for the Copa del Rey semi-final between Barcelona and Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Messi had felt pain in his thigh during Barca’s draw against Valencia on Sunday and, despite training on Tuesday evening, was not deemed fit enough to start the first leg at the Camp Nou.

Bale is still regaining fitness too following three weeks out with a calf injury although the Welshman might have been more confident of making Madrid’s line-up, having faced Alaves in La Liga on Sunday.

READ ALSO: Man City Sink Everton To Displace Leaders Liverpool

It is the second consecutive Clasico in which Messi has not played from the start after the Argentinian sat out Barcelona‘s 5-1 thrashing of Madrid in October with a broken arm.

Malcom came into the attacking three alongside Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho while for Madrid, Lucas Vazquez was preferred to Bale, joining the in-form Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior up front.

Barca’s slip at home to Valencia ended their eight-match winning run in the league. Madrid have found some form in recent weeks by registering five consecutive victories in all competitions.

AFP

Bale, De Bruyne In First Ballon D’or Nominees

File photo of Ballon d’Or

 

Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale and Manchester City’s Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne were among the first 10 nominees for the Ballon d’Or award announced on Monday.

Bale, who scored two goals in Real’s triumph in the final of the Champions League against Liverpool, joins his club teammate Karim Benzema among the first wave of 30 nominees for the year’s best player.

De Bruyne was nominated for helping his club win the Premier League and his country reach the World Cup semi-finals.

The winner of the prestigious award organized by France Football magazine will be announced on December 3.

Having lost out in the FIFA best player of the year award to Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo takes his place among the 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or that were being unveiled in stages throughout Monday.

The Juventus forward, currently facing allegations of rape dating back to 2009 that he strenuously denies, has already won the Ballon d’Or five times and is the current holder of the award.

Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero is nominated as is another prolific South American striker, Edinson Cavani of Uruguay and Paris Saint-Germain.

Two goalkeepers are also among the first 10 — Thibaut Courtois of Belgium and Real Madrid and Liverpool and Brazil stopper Alisson Becker.

Liverpool’s Brazilian Roberto Firmino is also nominated and Uruguay’s rugged defender Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid also got the nod.

For the first time, a Ballon d’Or for women players will be awarded this year, with the nominees to be announced later Monday.

In another first, the best under-21 player will receive the Kopa Trophy. Kylian Mbappe, the Paris Saint-Germain striker who burst onto the global scene with his performances as France won the World Cup, is the favorite.

The Ballon d’Or, which was first won by Englishman Stanley Matthews in 1956, is decided by a ballot of journalists from around the world.

First 10 nominees (of 30) for Ballon d’Or

Sergio Aguero

Alisson Becker

Gareth Bale

Karim Benzema

Edinson Cavani

Thibaut Courtois

Cristiano Ronaldo

Kevin De Bruyne

Roberto Firmino

Diego Godin

AFP

Real Madrid More Of A Team Without Ronaldo, Says Bale

 

Gareth Bale has won four Champions Leagues in five years at Real Madrid but believes the Spanish giants can be even better in their quest for a 14th European crown despite the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Bale has shone in the spotlight since Ronaldo’s departure for Juventus, scoring in all of Real’s opening three La Liga wins and providing the equaliser for Isco in a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

“Obviously it’s going to be a little different from having such a big player there,” Bale told British newspaper the Daily Mail.

“It’s maybe a bit more relaxed, yes. I suppose there is more of a team, more working as one unit rather than one player.”

Fired by his anger at being left out of the starting line-up in Zinedine Zidane’s last match in charge of Madrid, Bale came off the bench to score twice in last season’s Champions League final to beat Liverpool 3-1.

However, it is Ronaldo’s goals that have led Real to so much success on the continent in recent times.

The Portuguese has been the competition’s top scorer for the past six seasons.

But ahead of their Champions League opener against last season’s semi-finalists Roma on Wednesday, Bale insists Real can be even better this season.

“We can be even better again,” he added. “Another start and another challenge. We’re ready for it.”

The strained relationship between Bale and Zidane may have led to the Welshman looking for an exit this summer had the French coach not decided to bow out after winning a third straight Champions League in just two and a half years in charge.

Bale avoided the question of whether new boss Julen Lopetegui is a better manager than the French great, but accepts Lopetegui’s command of English has made it easier to communicate.

“Obviously it helps,” said Bale. “In Spanish I can talk but maybe not go into that amount of detail with them that I would need to.”

AFP

Zidane Leaves Bale Out Of Starters As Real Chase Champions League Glory

 

Zidane Leaves Bale Out Of Starters As Real Chase Champions League Glory
Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale walks on the pitch during a Real Madrid team training session at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 25, 2018. Photo: Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Gareth Bale starts on the bench for Real Madrid in Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev, with coach Zinedine Zidane preferring Isco to the Welshman.

As a result, the Real starting line-up is the same as that which took to the field in last year’s final, when the Spanish giants beat Juventus 4-1 in Cardiff.

Cristiano Ronaldo leads the attack as Real look to win the Champions League for the third season running, something no team has achieved since Bayern Munich in 1976.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp goes, as expected, with the same team that started the second leg of their semi-final against Roma.

Mohamed Salah, who has 44 goals in all competitions this season, has inspired the Anfield club on their run to a first Champions League final since 2007, when they lost to AC Milan in Athens.

Liverpool are looking to win their sixth European Cup overall — they beat Real 1-0 when the clubs met in 1981 in Paris.

Real are chasing a fourth Champions League title in five seasons, and a 13th European Cup overall. Zidane can become the first coach to win the Champions League three seasons running.

Starting line-ups for the UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Kiev on Saturday (1845 GMT kick-off):

Real Madrid (4-3-1-2)

Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos (capt), Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos; Isco; Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

Coach: Zinedine Zidane (FRA)

Liverpool (4-3-3)

Loris Karius; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson; Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson (capt), James Milner; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

Coach: Jurgen Klopp (GER)

Bale Scores Brace As Real Madrid Smash Six Past Celta Vigo

Bale Scores Brace As Real Madrid Smash Six Past Celta Vigo
Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale (R) celebrates goal during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid and Celta Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid on May 12, 2018. Photo: Benjamin CREMEL / AFP

 

Gareth Bale scored twice as Real Madrid routed Celta Vigo 6-0 on Saturday to give coach Zinedine Zidane a selection headache for the Champions League final.

With Cristiano Ronaldo again sidelined with an ankle injury, Welsh star Bale stepped into the limelight with two first-half strikes to push his case for a starting spot in the European showpiece against Liverpool in Kiev in two weeks’ time.

Bale opened his account after 13 minutes on Saturday, picking up a sweetly-timed through ball from Luka Modric to score.

His second on the half-hour mark saw him dash to the byline before tucking the ball to one side of a defender and then unleashing a sharp left-footed drive into the corner of the net.

Bale celebrated by dedicating his performance to his third son Axel Charles who was born on Tuesday.

Isco made it 3-0 after 32 minutes before Moroccan midfielder Achraf added the fourth, seven minutes into the second half.

On a miserable night for mid-table Celta, Sergi Gomez put through his own net on 74 minutes, leaving German internatonal Toni Kroos to tuck away Real’s sixth goal after 81 minutes.

Real stay in third place in the table on 75 points, 15 behind champions Barcelona and three back from city rivals Atletico with one game left to play.

Earlier Saturday, Koke’s early goal proved enough for Atletico to claim a 1-0 win at Getafe and remain on course to finish in second place.

Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak also saved a late penalty from Faycal Fajr as Diego Simeone’s men warmed up for Wednesday’s Europa League final against Marseille by denting Getafe’s hopes of playing continental football next season.

The capital club got off to a quick start in the local derby, as Koke collected Antoine Griezmann’s pass and drove a low shot into the bottom corner to score his fourth goal of the campaign in the eighth minute.

Getafe missed a chance to stay just two points adrift of seventh-placed Sevilla in the chase to qualify for the Europa League, as Fajr’s 77th-minute spot-kick was kept out by Slovenian Oblak.

Simeone admitted the challenge posed by Marseille would be different to that encountered at Getafe.

“We will face a team who are very enthusiastic, with very good attacking players. They are a team that work well at the tactical level,” said the Argentine.

Sevilla would have wrapped up a top-seven finish with victory in their derby at Real Betis, but Loren’s equaliser with nine minutes to play snatched the home team a 2-2 draw.

Managerless Sevilla, who reached this season’s Champions League quarter-finals, now have to beat Alaves next weekend to secure a spot in Europe’s second-tier competition.

Elsewhere, Samu Castillejo scored twice as Villarreal beat relegated Deportivo La Coruna 4-2 to leapfrog Betis into fifth, with Denis Cheryshev also netting a day after being recalled to the preliminary Russian World Cup squad.

AFP

Bale Leads Real To Low-Key Win Over Leganes Ahead Of Bayern Clash

 

Bale Leads Real To Low-Key Win Over Leganes Ahead Of Bayern Clash
Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid and Leganes at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid on April 28, 2018. Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Gareth Bale scored as a much-changed Real Madrid warmed up for Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg at Bayern Munich with a 2-1 win over Leganes on Saturday.

Bale bundled Real into an early lead before Borja Mayoral took advantage of more sloppy defending to make it two before half-time.

Serbian Darko Brasanac gave Leganes hope of a comeback, but Real closed out the victory despite struggling in the second half.

“I’m very happy with the attitude of my players today, with 10 changes to the starting eleven, with players who haven’t played much,” said Real coach Zinedine Zidane.

“We can’t be happy with what we’ve done in the league in general. We lost a lot of points at the beginning, then we were a bit better but that can happen in a season.

“Now we have to get back to work, we have another match on Tuesday which will be our game of the year. We have a title to defend.”

Real stay third in the table, one point behind city rivals Atletico who play Alaves on Sunday when Barcelona can secure the La Liga title if they avoid defeat at Deportivo La Coruna.

Zidane made sweeping changes to the team which beat Bayern 2-1 in Wednesday’s first leg at the Allianz Arena, with Bale and Karim Benzema returning.

Bale boosted his hopes of a start in the second leg by hooking in a deflected Benzema effort to give Real an eighth-minute lead with his first goal since a double against Las Palmas on March 31.

Leganes had stunned Real with a 2-1 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu in January to reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals but struggled to make any inroads against their dominant hosts.

Daniel Ceballos fired narrowly over, but the soon-to-be-deposed league champions doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time.

Mayoral tapped in from close range after Leganes goalkeeper Pichu Cuellar totally missed a left-wing cross, with offside appeals waved away as defender Unai Bustinza had got a touch to the ball on its way through.

It was the 21-year-old Mayoral’s second La Liga goal, having also netted against Real Sociedad in September.

Leganes grew into the game after the break as Real’s thoughts perhaps turned towards Bayern, and Miguel Guerrero wasted an excellent chance to halve the deficit as he headed wide from a Nabil El Zhar cross.

But the away team did pull one back in the 66th minute, as Nordin Amrabat forced his way to the byline and squared for Brasanac to tap in from close range.

On-loan Watford winger Amrabat was proving dangerous, and the Moroccan saw a low shot saved by stand-in Real goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.

Leganes continued to pile on the pressure, with Casilla making a brilliant stop to deny Bustinza.

Leganes defender Gabriel sent off in injury-time, as Real clung on for the three points after a below-par performance.

Own-goal double settles Basque derby

Earlier on Saturday, Athletic Bilbao midfielder Mikel San Jose scored two own goals as his side slipped to a 3-1 defeat at Real Sociedad in Saturday’s Basque country derby.

The 28-year-old volleyed a corner emphatically past his own goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 15th minute, before Mikel Oyarzabal doubled the advantage before half-time.

San Jose became only the second player to ever score two own goals in a La Liga match at the Anoeta Stadium, putting through his own net early in the second half before Raul Garcia scored a consolation from the penalty spot.

Elsewhere, Espanyol all but assured safety with a 1-1 draw against already-relegated Las Palmas.

Deportivo La Coruna will join Las Palmas and Malaga in dropping into the second tier if they fail to beat Barcelona on Sunday.

Sevilla sacked coach Vincenzo Montella after just four months in charge after seeing their winless run extended to nine games with a 2-1 loss at lowly Levante on Friday.

It was the second time the Italian had been sacked this season, after being dumped by AC Milan last November.

AFP

Benzema, Bale Left On Real Bench As James Starts For Bayern

 

Benzema, Bale Left On Real Bench As James Starts For Bayern
Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema. Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane left out both Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema from Real Madrid’s starting line-up for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg at Bayern Munich.

The holders started with Isco and Lucas Vazquez either side of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Having already left Benzema on the bench for the quarter-final second leg against Juventus, Real coach Zidane dropped Bale as well.

Captain Sergio Ramos returned to Real’s starting line-up after missing the dramatic return game with Juve through suspension.

There were no such surprises in the Bayern line-up.

James Rodriguez, who is on loan from Real, started for the Germans against his parent club with midfielder Thiago Alcantara left on the bench.

Set-piece expert David Alaba failed to recover from a thigh injury and Rafinha took his place at left-back.

Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes opted for experience on the wings in Arjen Robben, 34, and Franck Ribery, 35, playing out wide with Robert Lewandowski through the middle.

Bayern Munich (4-1-4-1):

Sven Ulreich; Joshua Kimmich, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Rafinha; Javi Martinez; Arjen Robben, Thomas Mueller (capt), James Rodriguez, Franck Ribery; Robert Lewandowski

Coach: Jupp Heynckes (GER)

Real Madrid (4-3-3):

Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos (capt), Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos; Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lucas Vazquez

Coach: Zinedine Zidane (FRA)

Referee: Bjoern Kuipers (NED)

AFP

I Have No Problem With Bale – Zidane

Forget Cardiff, Zidane Warns Real Ahead Of Juventus Clash
Real Madrid’s French Coach Zinedine Zidane OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane insists he has no problem with Gareth Bale despite substituting him at half-time during Real Madrid´s Champions League clash against Juventus last week. 

Sources have told AFP that Bale was surprised and angry at Zidane´s decision to take him off at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Real trailing 2-0 in a match they went on to lose 3-1. The defending champions progressed 4-3 on aggregate.

Bale was then not included in the squad for Sunday´s 2-1 win over Malaga in La Liga but Real insisted the plan had always been to rest players for the match.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Raphael Varane were also spared the trip to La Rosaleda.

Real host Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday and Bale will be hoping for another chance to state his case ahead of the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich next week.

Against Juve, Karim Benzema made way for Bale by dropping to the bench but Zidane says neither player feels sidelined by recent selections.

“No I don´t think so, this is football,” Zidane said on Tuesday. “I don’t see either of them looking sad, they are training well.

“I spoke to the pair of them the other day, they would both like to score more goals but everyone is working well.

“It is always going to happen in a side like ours. There are players in good form and playing well but I have to be ready always to evaluate who is the best players on the team at any given time.”

Zidane has preferred Benzema as a partner for Ronaldo up front this season but the Frenchman has managed only one goal in his last nine games.

“We are not worried, we know the quality he has,” Zidane said. “He has to score goals of course, he knows that – he knows he can do other things but he has to score goals.

“He does suffer a little bit when he misses chances but the solution is easy. He has to keep working.

“It is just a little blip he is in at the moment – we had that as a team earlier in the season but we kept working. If he keeps working, I´m sure in a short time he will be scoring again.”

Real are chasing an unprecedented third consecutive Champions League crown and Bayern’s hopes of stopping them have been dented by an injury to key midfielder, Arturo Vidal.

Vidal is set to undergo surgery on a knee problem and looks certain to miss the first leg.

“Vidal is an important player but nothing will change,” Zidane said. “Bayern have a very big squad, with lots of good players, and they will replace him for sure.”

AFP

Bale Back In Favour As Real Aim To Finish Off Juventus

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale warms up before the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Juventus FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on April 11, 2018. CURTO DE LA TORRE / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane handed Gareth Bale his first Champions League start since September as Real Madrid prepared to face Juventus in the quarter-final second leg.

Bale was a surprise inclusion ahead of Karim Benzema at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Real held a 3-0 advantage from the opening match in Turin.

Sergio Ramos’ suspension meant a call-up for 21-year-old Jesus Vallejo in central defence while left-back Marcelo assumed the captaincy.

For Juve, Medhi Benatia and Miralem Pjanic returned after they were banned for the first leg. Mario Mandzukic started on the left of an attacking trio, alongside Douglas Costa and Gonzalo Higuain.

Starting line-ups for the Champions League quarter-final, second leg between Real Madrid and Juventus at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday (kick-off 1845 GMT; Real Madrid lead 3-0 from first leg):

Real Madrid (4-4-2)

Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Jesus Vallejo, Marcelo (capt); Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Isco; Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo

Coach: Zinedine Zidane (FRA)

Juventus (4-3-3)

Gianluigi Buffon (capt); Mattia De Sciglio, Giorgio Chiellini, Medhi Benatia, Alex Sandro; Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi; Douglas Costa, Mario Mandzukic, Gonzalo Higuain

Coach: Massimiliano Allegri (ITA)

Referee: Michael Oliver (ENG)

AFP

Returning Bale Rescues Real Madrid From Al Jazira Upset

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale (C) celebrates after scoring during the FIFA Club World Cup semi-final match in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi on December 13, 2017.
GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

 

Gareth Bale came off the bench to book Real Madrid’s place in the Club World Cup final as the European champions recovered from the shock of going behind to beat Emirati champions Al Jazira 2-1 on Wednesday.

Despite dominating throughout, Madrid trailed at half-time to Romarinho’s opener in a match also marred by use of the video assistant referee (VAR) that ruled out a goal for both sides.

Madrid’s pressure finally paid off 10 minutes into the second half when Cristiano Ronaldo levelled before Bale broke Al Jazira’s resistence with his first touch eight minutes from time.

“It’s great to get the goal,” Bale told Real Madrid TV. “When you come on you want to make an impact, but the most important thing is to win and be in the final.”

Gareth Bale and  Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate   Photo: GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

Real will go for their fifth trophy of the year when they face Brazilian side Gremio on Saturday.

Bale was making only his second substitute appearance since September due to a series of muscle injuries.

But he showed what Madrid have been missing for most of the season with a calm finish after replacing the profligate Karim Benzema.

“I need to be patient, I’ve had some problems and it takes time. I need to listen to my body,” said the Welshman.

Al Jazira, only invited to the competition as champions of the host country, enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame at the break after a remarkable first 45 minutes.

Madrid scored five in the first half against Sevilla on Saturday and could easily have had another handful but for some exceptional goalkeeping from Ali Khaseif.

The Al Jazira captain made an incredible stop to turn a deflected Ronaldo header onto the bar then got down well to parry efforts from Luka Modric and Karim Benzema.

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale (L) is congratulated after scoring by teammates Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo and Sergio Asensio during the FIFA Club World Cup semi-final match in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi on December 13, 2017. GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

VAR chaos

Benzema also had a goal ruled out for a push by Ronaldo in the build-up, but Madrid thought they had finally gone ahead when Casemiro’s header deflected off an Al Jazira head and looped over Khaseif.

However, after a four-minute delay for the VAR referral, Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci disallowed the goal due to Benzema being in an offside position despite the fact the Frenchman was arguably not interfering with play.

“I don’t like it to be honest,” added Bale on the use of VAR.

“Obviously they are going to try it out. For me, football is better without it but it is other people who make the decisions.”

In total Madrid had 18 shots on goal in the first half, but were shocked four minutes before the break when the hosts caught the Real defence cold on the counter-attack.

A poor clearance from Nacho gifted away possession inside the Madrid half and Romarinho showed great composure to cut inside and curl his shot inside Keylor Navas’ far post.

Al-Jazira’s Brazilian forward Romarinho (R) is congratulated by teammates after scoring during the FIFA Club World Cup semi-final match in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi on December 13, 2017. Romarinho opened the scoring for his side before the end of the first half. GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

 

A monumental upset looked on when Al Jazira had the ball in the net for a second time two minutes into the second half.

However, this time VAR came to Madrid’s rescue as Mbark Boussoufa was offside by the finest of margins before slotting home.

Zinedine Zidane’s men grabbed that let-off gratefully and were level eight minutes later when Ronaldo was played in by Modric and smashed a shot past Khaled Al Senaani, who had replaced the injured Khaseif moments earlier.

Madrid continued to lay seige to the Al Jazira goal, but the misfiring Benzema shot straight at Al Senaani then hit the post with two other glorious chances.

Benzema was eventually replaced by Bale, who an instant impact as he slotted home Lucas Vazquez’s cutback to Real’s relief.

AFP

Bale Finally Back For Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s forward from Wales Gareth Bale celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Group H football match BVB Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid in Dortmund, western Germany on September 26, 2017.
Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

Gareth Bale is set to feature for the first time in two months when Real Madrid host third-tier Fuenlebrada in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday, but Zinedine Zidane has pleaded for patience with the Welshman’s fitness.

Bale’s four-year spell in the Spanish capital has been dogged by injuries, particularly in the past year as he has completed 90 minutes just four times.

“I want Gareth to be fully-fit but I can’t say when that will be,” Zidane said on Monday, as Bale returned to full training following a thigh injury.

“The idea is that tomorrow he can play and he looks good. As always he needs game time and how the matches go will determine what the best route for us to take is.

“He will play tomorrow, but I don’t know for how long.”

Zidane is expected to make wholesale changes for the clash at the Santiago Bernabeu (2030GMT) with Real already leading the Madrid-based minnows 2-0 on aggregate.

Bale is yet to play a single minute this season alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema as injury and suspension have blighted all three early in the season.

Real have paid a heavy price as the European champions have fallen eight points behind Barcelona at the top of La Liga and finished second in their Champions League group behind Tottenham Hotspur.

However, Zidane is hopeful of reunited Real’s famed ‘BBC’ front three in time for the Club World Cup and an El Clasico clash with Barca next month.

“I want to see Gareth, Cristiano and Karim,” added the Frenchman.

“It has been a long time since I have seen them together.”