Bale Left Out By Zidane For Man City Test

Gareth Bale, Zinedine Zidane

 

 

Gareth Bale has been left out of Real Madrid’s squad for their Champions League last 16-second leg against Manchester City on Friday.

Zinedine Zidane named 24 players on Wednesday for the trip to Manchester, where Madrid are aiming to overturn a 2-1 first-leg defeat to reach the quarter-finals.

Sergio Ramos will travel with the squad, Madrid confirmed, despite being suspended for the fixture.

Bale, 31, was not on the list, adding another low-point to a turbulent season for the Welshman, who has hardly featured for Madrid this year.

Despite Madrid storming to the La Liga title, Bale made only two appearances during the 11 games after La Liga resumed, one of them from the start.

He was pictured standing away from the team’s celebrations with Zidane after their league success was confirmed and had caused a stir by pretending to be asleep during Madrid’s game against Alaves.

Zidane’s decision to omit Bale completely from the squad to face City is another clear indication the Frenchman would prefer to be rid of Bale and his 18-million euro salary this summer.

But interested clubs are likely to be put off by the finances involved while Bale and his representatives insist he is happy to see out his Madrid contract, which expires in 2022.

Ramos will travel with the squad to England, despite being banned for the match after he was sent off towards the end of the first leg.

UEFA protocol will allow Madrid’s captain to enter the stadium and be in the dressing room with the players, but he cannot sit on the bench.

Ramos will also have to be tested along with the rest of the squad.

Transfer Deadline: Zidane Quashes Bale Exit Rumours

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane looks on before during the Spanish league football match Real Valladolid FC against Real Madrid CF at the Jose Zorilla stadium in Valladolid on January 26, 2020.
CESAR MANSO / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane has said he is “not contemplating” Gareth Bale leaving Real Madrid on Friday before the end of the January transfer window. 

Bale came close to joining Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning last summer and English newspaper the Times reported on Friday the Welshman was in talks to rejoin his former club Tottenham.

But a source at Spurs has told AFP they are not in negotiations to sign Bale this month. Another source close to the player insisted earlier this week that “nothing has changed” and he would not be leaving Real Madrid in January.

 

Asked about the possibility of Bale being sold on Friday, Zidane said in a press conference: “Gareth is with us, I’m counting on him. I do not contemplate this possibility.”

Bale was left out of the squad to face Real Zaragoza in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, having completed only one full training session following an ankle injury.

Zidane would not say if he would return for the city derby against Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

“I’m not going to tell you who is going to play,” Zidane said. “The players all have to be prepared.”

There was also a positive update regarding the fitness of Eden Hazard, who has recovered from his foot injury and could feature against Atletico.

“We’ll see but he has been training with us all week,” Zidane said. “He could be included tomorrow but we will never take any risks.”

Hazard has not played since fracturing his foot against Paris Saint-Germain on November 26.

Real Madrid face Atletico on the back of a 20-game unbeaten run. They sit top of La Liga, three points clear of Barcelona.

Zidane Defends Bale After Latest Injury Set-Back

 

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane defended Gareth Bale on Saturday after the Welshman picking up another injury and also said Eden Hazard is close to a return. 

Bale will miss Madrid’s La Liga game against Real Valladolid on Sunday after he sprained his ankle during Madrid’s Copa del Rey win over Unionistas de Salamanca on Wednesday. Bale had opened the scoring in a 3-1 victory.

It is his third injury this season. Bale spent just over a month out before Christmas with calf and thigh problems.

He missed Real Madrid’s Spanish Super Cup triumph in Saudi Arabia through illness earlier this month and the game against Unionistas was his first match back.

“When he is available, which is the most important thing, he is fine,” Zidane said in a press conference on Saturday.

“The pity is that the other day he hurt his ankle and he is now unavailable.

“He is as unhappy about it as anyone, he would like to be with us, to train and play, but it’s a small thing. I hope to see him back with us on Monday.”

Bale’s relationship with Zidane has been tense in the past and he came close to leaving Real Madrid last summer, before a move to China fell through.

The 30-year-old is not expected to be sold mid-season but a departure could suit everyone in the summer.

Asked if he was tired of defending Bale, Zidane said: “The other day he scored. I will always defend my players. They are my players, they train every day, they fight for each other.

“There is a good dynamic, all the players are desperate to wear the badge of Real Madrid. They all have their own history but I don’t see that as a bad thing. It is true Gareth has had some injuries and you can’t do anything about that.

“You can think what you want but when I am with him, what he wants is to be available, to be with the team.”

Bale’s recovery could coincide with a return for Hazard, who has also endured an injury-interrupted season since his move from Chelsea last summer.

The Belgian sustained a fracture in his foot in November but has begun light training, meaning he could feature in the derby against Atletico Madrid on February 1.

“I cannot say when he will be back but he has started to touch the ball again,” Zidane said. “His progress is good, he no longer feels pain. Starting Monday, he will start working individually with more ballwork.”

Hazard missed almost a month at the start of the season with a hamstring strain before injuring his foot on November 26 against Paris Saint-Germain.

Real Madrid are unbeaten in 18 games and sit second in La Liga, behind Barcelona on goal difference.

ta/pb

Bale Starts For Real Madrid Against Barcelona

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale is set to start in El Clasico (File).
JOSE JORDAN / AFP

 

Gareth Bale was handed a surprise start by Zinedine Zidane for Real Madrid’s politically charged La Liga meeting with Barcelona on Wednesday.

Bale has been out of the team for Real’s previous three games, with his last selection in the starting line-up coming against Alaves on November 30.

The fixture had to be postponed in October due to violent demonstrations and there are renewed fears of unrest relating to Catalan independence breaking out around Camp Nou.

After recovering from a thigh injury, the Welshman followed up one substitute appearance with a start at Camp Nou, where the winner will go top of the table.

Real and Barca are level on points, with the Catalans ahead on goal difference.

AFP

Bale Returns To Real Squad, To Miss Betis Clash

A file photo of Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

 

Zinedine Zidane said on Friday Gareth Bale has resumed light training but will not be available for Real Madrid’s La Liga game at home to Real Betis. 

Madrid can register their third consecutive victory by beating struggling Betis on Saturday but Bale remains on the sidelines, as he continues his recovery from a calf problem.

Bale caused a stir this week by taking the day off on Monday to meet his agent in London, prompting reports in Spain he was discussing a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu in January.

READ ALSO: Arsenal’s Xhaka To Miss Wolves Clash

But Zidane has insisted Bale had permission to be absent from the club and he is now back in training.

The Welshman was not with the rest of the squad for Friday’s early session but did some running alone with a team physio.

“He is here with us, he is training and working hard,” said Zidane in a press conference on Friday.

“He is back from his trip and he is getting better. He is not available yet but he is recovering bit by bit.

“It seems we should bring him out here to speak to you because I don’t know anything more.”

Real Madrid sit second in La Liga, a point behind Barcelona and one ahead of Atletico Madrid and surprise high-fliers Granada, both of whom have played a game more.

James Rodriguez returned to Madrid on Friday from Colombia after the birth of his second child, but he is not expected to be involved this weekend.

Centre-back Nacho is struggling with a knee problem and Marco Asensio is a long-term absentee with a cruciate ligament injury.

AFP

Zidane Dismisses Speculation Over Bale’s Future At Real Madrid

 

Zinedine Zidane insists Gareth Bale was given permission by Real Madrid to travel to London on Monday, and claims the Welshman never talks about leaving the club. 

Bale has not played since injuring his calf during a game for Wales on October 13 and his trip to England has prompted speculation he will seek an exit from Madrid in January.

But Zidane insists Bale had permission to be absent on Monday and Tuesday morning and that he is not aware the 30-year-old wants to be sold.

“It was a personal issue and he had permission yesterday to go,” Zidane said in a press conference on Tuesday.

“It was a personal issue and he went, that’s it, no story. He also went because he’s not available to play.

“But I don’t think he ever speaks about leaving. When he is available he plays, that’s all there is to it.”

Bale came close to a move to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning last summer after Zidane said it would be “best for everyone” if he left Real Madrid.

But the deal fell through at the last minute due to a disagreement over the transfer fee and Zidane is not expecting any fresh offers in January.

 Unimpressed 

“I don’t think there will be an offer and I haven’t thought about it either. Gareth is a Real Madrid player,” said Zidane.

“What happened in the summer was the situation at the time and in the end Gareth stayed and all the better for everyone.

“It’s true what was said didn’t help but for me the result is the most important thing. He’s an important player and it’s important he plays and he plays well.

“If in January he says he’ll stay, there will be talk about the transfer window in the summer. Unfortunately people will always speak about these things but he’s here and everyone is happy he’s here.”

Zidane claimed he has a “good relationship” with Bale but sources have told AFP the forward remains on bad terms with the Frenchman.

Bale was particularly unimpressed by his omission from Madrid’s squad to face Club Brugge in the Champions League earlier this month.

After the match, Zidane put his absence down to a fitness issue but those close to Bale insist he was fully fit.

“I spoke to him and I spoke to James (Rodriguez). Both of them weren’t available to play against Brugge and they didn’t play,” said Zidane. “There’s nothing else to say about that.”

Bale will miss Madrid’s La Liga game at home to Leganes on Wednesday, along with Nacho, who has a knee problem, and Marco Asensio, who is recovering from a anterior cruciate ligament injury.

James Rodriguez is also unlikely to be involved as he missed training on Tuesday due to the birth of his child.

Real Madrid are sixth in the table but only two points off the top, with a game in hand.

AFP

Euro 2020 Qualifier: Wales Star Bale Set For Croatia Clash

Wales’ forward Gareth Bale poses before the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Slovakia and Wales in Trnava on October 10, 2019. VLADIMIR SIMICEK / AFP

 

Wales star Gareth Bale admitted he is relieved to be available to face Croatia in Sunday’s crucial Euro 2020 qualifier after escaping a red card in Slovakia.

Bale had already been booked when he fouled Slovakia defender Milan Skriniar in the closing stages of the 1-1 draw in Trnava on Thursday.

The Real Madrid forward could have been shown a red card that would have ruled him out of the Croatia clash in Cardiff.

But he was also hurt in the collision and spent a couple of minutes needing treatment before play resumed with no punishment.

“I’m fit and I’m fine, it was just a knock on the knee and a bit of ice has sorted that out,” Bale said on Saturday.

“I was more worried about getting sent off to be honest. I was just happy to get away with that one!

“But saying that, I didn’t think the first one deserved a yellow, so maybe it evened itself out.”

Bale’s second yellow card of Euro 2020 qualifying means another booking would see him suspended.

Wales, who trail Group E leaders Croatia by six points and are three adrift of second-placed Slovakia, with a game in hand on both, finish their campaign with November games against Azerbaijan and Hungary.

“I can’t make too many silly tackles, I have to be mindful of that,” Bale said.

“I don’t want to miss any games for Wales, especially at the crunch time of the group.

“So I have to be clever with what I’m doing, but maybe expect someone’s going to rile me to get me suspended.

“I’m experienced enough to get through the period without picking up another booking.”

Wales have failed to win in five previous encounters with Croatia and Bale would love to end that run against his Real team-mate Luka Modric.

“We know each quite well, as we’ve played together for a long time in Tottenham and Real Madrid, and it would be nice to get one over on him finally,” Bale said.

“We’ve not spoken yet, maybe there will be a little message later on.

“They’ve beaten us a few times in the past, but it’s always been a tight game between us.

“We know what a great team they are. They had a great World Cup and shown year after year how good they are.

“But playing at home gives us an advantage and we’ve had some great results against some big teams in our stadium.”

Wales will make a late decision on Aaron Ramsey’s fitness after the Juventus midfielder, who is yet to feature in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, missed the Slovakia game while he recovers from a thigh problem.

“We have not ruled Aaron out. He’s on a different schedule, he didn’t travel to Slovakia with the team and stayed back with the physio,” Wales manager Ryan Giggs said.

“So we’re just giving him all the time we can and (will) see how is in the morning (on Sunday).”

AFP

Bale Eyes Wales After Real Madrid Uncertainty

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale attends a training session at the Ciudad Real Madrid training ground in Valdebebas, near Madrid, on August 31, 2019, ahead of their Spanish League football match against Villarreal. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

Gareth Bale says he feels more settled after a turbulent period at Real Madrid and is “raring to go” as Wales prepare to take on Azerbaijan in a Euro 2020 qualifier on Friday.

Bale looked set to leave Real in a big-money move to China in the transfer window, only for the Spanish giants to pull the plug at the last moment.

The 30-year-old ended a scoring drought stretching back to March with two goals in the 2-2 La Liga draw at Villarreal on Sunday but was sent off in stoppage time.

“The transfer window has closed,” Bale said on Thursday. “I don’t think mentally it affected me but I had not played for four to six weeks.

“It was nice to be back on the scoresheet (for Real Madrid) and now I am fit and raring to go.”

READ ALSO: Zambia Cancel International Friendly With South Africa

Real teammate Thibaut Courtois suggested in an interview earlier this year that Bale was often isolated from the rest of the squad and was called the “golfer” due to his passion for the sport.

But Bale said he was happy with the moniker, adding: “I am a golfer. People make a lot of it, but I enjoy it and it keeps me calmer on the pitch.”

The Wales forward said not being picked by Harry Redknapp at Spurs “for a year” was a harder time in his career.

“I just kept my head down and worked hard in training,” he said. “If you want answers you maybe need to ask Real Madrid.”

Wales trail group leaders Hungary by six points, with a game in hand, and are three points adrift of Croatia and Slovakia in the race for a top-two spot.

Wales boss Ryan Giggs was pleased with Bale’s contribution on Sunday and said: “When he scores he tends to get on a roll.”

Giggs revealed that Ben Woodburn is likely to be missing against Azerbaijan due to illness but confirmed that the rest of his squad are fit and available, including Daniel James.

Manchester United’s new signing from Swansea has scored three goals in four appearances for the club so far this season.

Former United winger Giggs has not been surprised by James’s start to life at Old Trafford.

“He’s at the right club — a club which loves wingers,” Giggs said. “We’ve all seen what he’s capable of in the last eight or nine months and he’s going to get better and better.”

AFP

Zidane Asks Bale To Show Why He Is One Of World Best Players

Zinedine Zidane has challenged Gareth Bale to show why he is still one of the world’s best players as he continues his reintegration at Real Madrid. 

Bale, 30, was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up against Celta Vigo last weekend, when Madrid opened with an impressive 3-1 win in La Liga and Bale was arguably man of the match.

Zidane said in July it would be “best for everyone” if Bale left Madrid this summer but the Welshman has been eager to stay and appears to be regaining the confidence of his coach.

“What has changed is that the player is going to stay, nothing more,” Zidane said in a press conference on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s game at home to Real Valladolid.

“The important thing is the player wants to stay. It’s true that a lot was said about him, by me as well, but he is going to stay.

“He is a great player, he has shown that before and he has to show it again. He has to be the player we know that he is.”

Bale’s start in Vigo came after Eden Hazard sustained a thigh injury in training and it remains to be seen if he can keep his place when the Belgian returns after the international break.

“Bale played well the other day, a great match overall but also his level defensively was very high,” said Zidane.

“He worked hard and we have to continue in this way, Gareth, everyone, they are all going to be important.”

 ‘Can’t wait for September 2’

The transfer window in Spain does not close until September 2 and Zidane was asked about the future of goalkeeper Keylor Navas, as well as Real Madrid’s pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar.

Barcelona and Madrid are both chasing Neymar but neither have agreed a deal with PSG, who reportedly set Barca a deadline of Friday to present a suitable offer.

“The players I have are the ones that are here. Everything else, anything can happen until September 2. Some can arrive, some can go,” Zidane said.

“For that reason I can’t wait for September 2 so you won’t ask me about this anymore.”

Navas has lost out to Thibaut Courtois in the battle for the number one goalkeeper spot and the Costa Rican is believed to be seeking a move before the window closes.

“He has not told me he wants to leave,” Zidane said. “I am not contemplating him leaving, not at all. “He is here, he wants to be here and he is working in that way. He has always been professional.”

AFP

Bale Starts As Madrid Beat Celta 3-1

Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema (C) celebrates with teammates including Gareth Bale, Marcelo, and Luka Modric after scoring the opening goal in their clash against Celta Vigo in Vigo on August 17, 2019. MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

 

Zinedine Zidane promised changes but it was a retro Real Madrid that gave the revolution a winning start on Saturday as Gareth Bale led the way in a 3-1 victory over Celta Vigo.

Bale was back in the team and back in form at Balaidos, with Zidane’s eagerness to move him out this summer still perhaps in his mind as he teed up Karim Benzema’s opening goal.

Celta saw a potential equaliser chalked off before half-time. Then Real’s Luka Modric was sent off 11 minutes inti the second half but a stunning 30-yard shot from Toni Kroos put Madrid firmly back in control.

By the time Lucas Vazquez added a delicious third, at the end of a silky passing move, it was possible to wonder where this Madrid have been for the last 12 months, particularly as this starting line-up included not a single summer signing.

Zidane wanted Paul Pogba but it was Casemiro, Modric and Kroos in midfield, the same trio he picked for the Champions League final in 2018.

The coach also started Marcelo, arguably Madrid’s worst performer last term, and Bale. Only last month Zidane had said it would be “best for everyone” if the Welshman were sold.

Eden Hazard, who injured his thigh in training on Friday, will certainly start when he is fit again and there will be much tougher opponents than Celta, who finished 17th last season and were dead and buried before Iker Losada delivered a late consolation.

But, after a poor pre-season, Zidane needed a positive opening. This one was made all the sweeter by Barcelona’s defeat by Athletic Bilbao on Friday night.

Celta spent much of the match feeling aggrieved, no more so than after Benzema scored after just 12 minutes.

The home team claimed a foul by Casemiro in the build up. After that, Bale still had a lot to do, his dart one way and then the other freeing space for a drive towards the near post, where Benzema reacted fastest.

Early on, Bale was everywhere, blocking a cross in his own penalty area before being unleashed on the break, his rasping shot pushed away by Ruben Blanco.

Celta also had their moments. Gabriel Fernandez’s lunge was just short at the back post. Brais Mendez tapped in after the impressive Denis Suarez robbed Alvaro Odriozola and Iago Aspas made the final pass.

Aspas, however, had strayed offside as VAR spared Odriozola’s blushes. The referee, Javier Estrada, departed to a chorus of whistles at half-time.

Benzema and Aspas both spurned chances soon after the restart before Modric was sent off for an innocuous late challenge on the heel of Suarez. Estrada consulted the review and was left in no doubt.

Nestor Aruajo headed the ball straight at Thibaut Courtois but just as Madrid seemed about to give way, Kroos produced his thunderbolt from 30 yards, the ball cannoning down off the crossbar and in.

That knocked the stuffing out of Celta. They went three down when a brilliant team move, involving Isco, Benzema and Marcelo, found Vazquez free at the back post.

Bale had been replaced by Isco, exchanging a hand slap with Zidane as he went, before Losada prodded home in injury-time.

AFP

Bale Starts Madrid’s Opener Against Celta

Bale had been expected to leave Real Madrid this summer.  File photo: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Gareth Bale’s unexpected reintegration at Real Madrid continued on Saturday when he was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up to play Celta Vigo.

Zinedine Zidane had been keen to sell Bale this summer but admitted on Friday that “things change” and he was now counting on the Welshman this season.

Bale was left out of the squad completely for three pre-season games but returned for the final friendly against Roma, coming off the bench in the second half.

An injury to Eden Hazard has opened a spot up front alongside Karim Benzema, and Zidane has chosen Bale ahead of the likes of Luka Jovic, Lucas Vazquez and Isco.

Bale was close to leaving in July 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 reportedly prefers 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 had promised wholesale changes but none of the club’s five summer signings started against Celta.

Hazard and Ferland Mendy are both out injured while Jovic and Eder Militao were on the bench. Youngster Rodrygo is still gaining experience with the reserve team.

AFP

Zidane Snubs Bale Again For Madrid Friendly

Zinedine Zidane                                                                                                          Gareth Bale

 

Gareth Bale’s stand-off with Real Madrid continued on Wednesday after the forward was left out of Zinedine Zidane’s squad to face Red Bull Salzburg in a friendly. 

Bale has only played in two of Real Madrid’s five pre-season games so far, coming on as a substitute against Arsenal and Atletico Madrid, and has now been left out completely for the third fixture in a row.

James Rodriguez and Mariano Diaz, who are both expected to be sold, were also not included for the match in Austria.

Zidane has made clear that Bale is not in his plans as he looks to rejuvenate Real Madrid following their miserable season last term.

The club are keen to sign Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, with Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen and Ajax youngster Donny van de Beek potential alternatives.

READ ALSO: Schalke Suspend Chairman Over Racist Comment

But Madrid first need to raise funds, after already spending around 300 million euros ($336 million) this summer.

Zidane said last month that Bale being sold would be “best for everyone”, while Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett told AFP: “Zidane is a disgrace – he shows no respect for a player that has done so much for Real Madrid.”

Bale is in no rush to leave the Santiago Bernabeu, where he has a contract until 2022, worth around 18 million euros a year.

He agreed to terms with Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning last month but the move was called off after Madrid failed to agree to a fee for the 30-year-old.

Bayern Munich retain interest but any deal would be hugely expensive, making it increasingly likely Bale will remain at Madrid for the start of the La Liga season next weekend.

AFP