Valencia Inflict First Defeat On Zidane’s New Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane looks downwards before the Spanish league football match between Valencia CF and Real Madrid CF at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia on April 3, 2019.


Zinedine Zidane dropped Gareth Bale and endured his first defeat since returning to Real Madrid as his side were deservedly beaten 2-1 by Valencia on Wednesday. 

The last time Zidane left Bale on the bench, the Welshman proved a spectacular substitute against Liverpool in the Champions League final 10 months ago but there was to be no rescue act at Mestalla.

Instead, Valencia surged to a convincing victory, Goncalo Guedes and Ezequiel Garay scoring once in each half to leave Marcelino’s team within a point of La Liga’s top four. Karim Benzema headed in a late consolation in injury-time.

After a miserable start to the season, Valencia could yet enjoy a barnstorming finish.

Champions League qualification is now within touching distance while a Copa del Rey final against Barcelona and Europa League last 16 ties against Villarreal still await.

For Zidane, after two opening victories, this was perhaps something of a reality check, except Madrid’s reappointed coach has been sure to insist he is under no illusions regarding the task in front of him.

They now trail leaders Barcelona by 13 points, the same margin they were behind the Catalans under Zidane at this stage last season.

This was reminiscent of the limp displays that have undone Madrid all season, blunt in the final third, too generous in defence and bereft of either snap or spark in midfield.

Bale had started each of Zidane’s first two games, offering hope there might yet be a future for him in the new era, but his relegation to the bench suggests the Frenchman’s old doubts may linger.

Zidane’s press conference on Tuesday had been littered with questions about various players’ futures but Raphael Varane and Marcelo both started in defence, as did Keylor Navas, restored in goal ahead of Zidane’s son Luca and the injured Thibaut Courtois.

Valencia was far superior in the first half and the only surprise was that it took 35 minutes for them to score.

Navas punched a corner to the edge of the box where Guedes bounced the ball off Carlos Soler, stopped it and curled it between the goalkeeper’s right hand and the post.

Valencia unleashed a series of efforts in search of a second. Kevin Gameiro headed wide, Geoffrey Kondogbia half-volleyed over and Rodrigo’s bending shot whistled inches past the post.

Madrid had barely featured as Bale came on for Marco Asensio in the 64th minute, along with Isco, who replaced Toni Kroos.

Bale might have had an equaliser shortly after were it not been for Dani Parejo’s sliding block and then the Welshman sent a sumptuous pass to the far post, but it was cleared away from the waiting Benzema.

Valencia should have wrapped it up with 15 minutes left as five sprawled forward on the break but Rodrigo mis-controlled while his cutback was flicked first by Gameiro and then Soler, harmlessly into the hands of Navas.

If Madrid were more threatening they might have capitalised but they were not and instead victory was secured when Garay heading in Parejo’s cross with seven minutes left.

Sergio Ramos had a penalty taken off him, ruled out by VAR before Benzema nodded in a consolation in added time. It was too little too late.



Bale, Isco Give Zidane Winning Start Against Celta

Real Madrid’s Spanish midfielder Isco (L) celebrates scoring the opening goal with Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and RC Celta de Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on March 16, 2019.


Zinedine Zidane brought Real Madrid’s outcasts in from the cold and they repaid him with a win in his first game back as Isco and Gareth Bale each scored in a 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo on Saturday. 

Isco had not started a single La Liga game under Santiago Solari but opened the scoring here shortly after the hour, before Bale got the goal his own committed display deserved to put sorry Celta out of sight.

Bale was teed up by Marcelo, who was also dropped by Solari but recalled, while Keylor Navas pulled off a superb save in the first half, having been brought back ahead of Thibaut Courtois.

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Even Marco Asensio has been almost anonymous through Madrid’s troubles this season and he seemed rejuvenated too, his weaving run leading to the opener from Isco, who was otherwise the quietest of Zidane’s recovering group.

The victory ends a run of four consecutive home defeats and means Madrid reduce the gap to nine points behind Barcelona, who play away at Real Betis on Sunday.

That deficit will surely prove too big to close but Zidane’s job is to restore morale in the 11 league games that are left and to find out what, and who, needs changing in the summer.

At times, this felt like a pre-season fixture, not just because of the baking hot sun but the relaxed atmosphere and the sense this is now a team on trial.

Bale, whose relationship with Zidane deteriorated to breaking point last season, was arguably the biggest winner, his performance proving there could yet be a place for him in what the club’s president Florentino Perez has dubbed “the glorious new era”.

Marcelo impressed too while Courtois might well wonder what his next couple of months hold, given Navas, an old favourite of Zidane, looks to be back in favour.

Zidane had enjoyed his press conference on Friday, joking with journalists about their changed hairstyles and smirking as he admitted he had given the same answers before.

Bale rattles crossbar

There was a cosy feeling at the Santiago Bernabeu too, where fans had a new song to the tune of ‘Hey Jude’, replaced by ‘Zizou’, and cheered their new coach’s name when it was announced before kick-off.

Bale came closest to scoring in the first half with an acrobatic scissor-kick that crashed against the crossbar and later teed up Karim Benzema to tap in, only for the referee to book the Welshman for a foul in the build-up.

In between, Madrid were rather muted, but dominant in possession. Marcelo pulled back for Isco, who slipped, and then watched his fizzing shot from distance pushed away by Ruben Blanco.

Toni Kroos’ effort grazed the roof of the net and from a corner, Sergio Ramos headed wide.

Celta found chances on the break but never looked liked converting. Maxi Gomez, with only Ramos to beat, curled wide while Sofiane Boufal’s finish had to be blocked on the line by Marcelo as Madrid were again caught upfield.

Benzema’s goal was ruled out just before half-time and Luka Modric had one chalked off just after, this time VAR intervening to show Raphael Varane offside and close enough to be deemed active.

Isco’s influence had diminished and Dani Ceballos was ready to replace him just before he scored the opening goal. Asensio made it, a superb run allowing Benzema to cross and Isco to bundle in.

There was still time for Bale to add a second, his touch making space for the shot after Marcelo had slipped him clear. The ball clipped the post and rolled in.


Bale Benched As Struggling Real Madrid Battle Ajax

Gareth’s troubled season continued on Tuesday as he fails to claim a starting spot in a crunch Champions League clash. AFP Photo.


Gareth Bale was relegated back to the bench for Real Madrid’s crunch game at home to Ajax in the second leg of the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.

Bale had started the defeat to Barcelona in La Liga on Saturday but the Welshman departed to whistles in the second half and was dropped for the return against Ajax, with Madrid 2-1 ahead from the first leg.

Isco came on against Barca but was not even named on the bench while Marcelo was again named as a substitute, Sergio Reguilon preferred at left-back.

Ajax started with an unchanged side from the opening leg, with Frenkie de Jong set to play at the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time. De Jong will join Barcelona in the summer.

Real Madrid (4-3-3)

Thibaut Courtois; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Nacho, Sergio Reguilon; Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modric; Lucas Vazquez, Karim Benzema (capt), Vinicius Junior

Coach: Santiago Solari (ARG)

Ajax (4-5-1)

Andre Onana; Noussair Mazraoui, Matthijs de Ligt (capt), Daley Blind, Nicolas Tagliafico; Lasse Schone, Donny van de Beek, Frenkie de Jong, Hakim Ziyech, David Neres; Dusan Tadic

Coach: Erik ten Hag (NED)


Reus, Goetze, Alcacer start as Dortmund target Spurs comeback

In the day’s other game, and with his side needing to score at least three goals, Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre thrust Marco Reus, Mario Goetze and Paco Alcacer all into Tuesday’s line-up against Tottenham Hotspur.

Having lost their Champions League last 16, first leg at Wembley 3-0, Favre threw caution to the wind for the return at Signal Iduna Park.

For the first time this season, both Germany forward Mario Goetze and Spanish striker Paco Alcacer, normally used off the bench, started alongside playmaker and captain Marco Reus, back after missing the first leg with a thigh injury.

With Thomas Delaney on the bench, Axel Witsel is Dortmund’s sole defensive midfielder up against Spurs’ midfield duo of Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko.

Achraf Hakimi, who made a mistake in the first leg and again in Friday’s 2-1 Bundesliga defeat at Augsburg drops to Dortmund’s bench with Marius Wolf taking his place at right-back.

Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino has stuck to a three-man defence that caused Dortmund problems in London, while England striker Harry Kane partners Son Heung-min up front.

Starting line-ups for the Champions League last 16, second leg between Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur at Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday (kick-off 2000 GMT):

Borussia Dortmund (4-3-3)

Roman Burki; Abdou Diallo, Julian Weigl, Manuel Akanji, Marius Wolf; Mario Goezte, Axel Witsel, Marco Reus (capt); Raphael Guerreiro, Paco Alcacer, Jadon Sancho

Coach: Lucien Favre (SUI)

Tottenham Hotspur (3-4-1-2)

Hugo Lloris (capt); Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez, Jan Vertonghen; Serge Aurier, Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko, Ben Davies; Christian Eriksen; Harry Kane, Son Heung-min

Coach: Mauricio Pochettino (ARG)

Referee: Danny Makkelie (NED)

Agent Defends Bale, Blasts Madrid Fans Over Maltreatment

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale/ AFP


Gareth Bale’s agent on Monday branded Real Madrid fans’ treatment of the Welsh international “a disgrace” after he was booed during the defeat by Barcelona.

Real boss Santiago Solari has consistently relegated Bale to the bench in recent weeks while offering only tepid support in the face of heavy criticism in the Spanish press.

Bale was jeered by the home crowd on Saturday when replaced by Marco Asensio as Real suffered their second defeat to Barcelona in just four days.

“This generation of Real fans will be talking about Gareth’s goals for years to come,” Jonathan Barnett told Sky Sports News. “Frankly they should be ashamed of themselves.

“Gareth deserves the greatest of respect. The way the Real fans have treated Gareth is nothing short of a disgrace.

“In the six years he has been in Spain, he has won everything. He’s one of the best players in the world. Those fans should be kissing his feet.”

READ ALSO: Balotelli Celebrates Goal With Selfie Video On Instagram

Bale has won four Champions League trophies and scored 101 goals in 218 appearances since joining Real from Tottenham for £85 million ($112 million) in 2013.

But he has failed to grab his chance to become the main man at the Bernabeu after the departure to Juventus of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Last week, the 29-year old grabbed the headlines after refusing to celebrate his winner at Levante, brushing off the congratulations of teammates.

His reaction drew only ambivalent backing from his manager and ferocious criticism in the Spanish press.

Bale’s limited integration into Spanish life has also drawn fire. He has not mastered the language and would rather watch golf on television than La Liga matches involving future opponents.

But Barnett added: “Despite what the Spanish press are reporting, he’s happy, he speaks reasonable Spanish and there is no problem between him and the rest of the Real players. The people writing these things know nothing about him.

“There has not been one single discussion about Gareth leaving Madrid. He isn’t going anywhere this summer. Despite what’s been reported, he’s content, he wants to stay at Real and they want him.”


Resurgent Real Madrid Bring No Guarantees For Fit-Again Bale

File Photo: Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale reacts during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 29, 2018. OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP

Gareth Bale is back but returns not so much to a hero’s welcome but a Real Madrid team doing rather well without him.

When Cristiano Ronaldo left last summer, 45 days after Bale’s brilliant double in the Champions League final, the belief was they had their ready-made successor. The club’s president Florentino Perez was convinced.

It started well, with three goals in as many games, but the team shrivelled under Julen Lopetegui and Bale, like the rest of the squad, faded. Then his fitness broke down too. 

There was a groin strain in October and an ankle problem in December. Both were minor but a calf injury at the start of January proved more serious and Bale was out for three weeks. 

In that time, Madrid rebounded off a defeat by Real Sociedad to beat Leganes, Real Betis, Sevilla and Girona. They lost a second leg to Leganes in the Copa del Rey, but the tie was all but won. 

Results were good but performances even better. Their 2-0 victory over Sevilla was probably their most complete display of the season while in last weekend’s 4-2 win against Espanyol, when Bale came on and scored, Madrid seemed to have their swagger back.

“We are showing we haven’t forgotten how to play,” said Luka Modric. “This is the Madrid we want to see.”

Chasing down Barcelona and a 10-point gap in La Liga will likely prove impossible but with the Champions League knock-out stages just around the corner, this gathering of momentum is timely.

The dilemma now for coach Santiago Solari is whether to restore his marquee players, like Bale and the fit-again Marco Asensio, or remain loyal to those that have sparked his team into life.

“Decisions are always made in the moment,” Solari said, when asked if Bale would come back in. “We will choose according to each game and take various factors into account.”

Benzema scaling new heights

Karim Benzema has been Madrid’s stand-out player this season and scaled new heights in recent weeks. He scored twice against Espanyol and then two more against Girona on Thursday in the Copa del Rey. He has five goals in his last three games, a return he last managed in January 2016.

Benzema will never get close to Ronaldo’s numbers but hopes that he might be liberated by the Portuguese’s departure are coming to fruition.

“I am sorry for those who only discovered Benzema last week,” Solari said on Thursday. “Karim has been doing this for many years, he has great talent and is a team player. Although it’s true, he’s in a great run of form.”

Close behind Benzema for impact has been Vinicius Junior, the 18-year-old Brazilian who was supposed to spend his debut season bedding in with the reserves.

Instead, Vinicius is arguably the face of Solari’s tenure so far, a youngster undaunted by expectations and taking his chance to excel. “Vinicius is football,” Solari said last month. “We are delighted with his progress.”

Most likely to give way is perhaps Lucas Vazquez, on the right of the front three, but he has a strong case too. 

Madrid have won 14 of the 17 matches in which Vazquez has started under Solari, a trend seemingly not lost on the Argentinian, who has named Vazquez in 11 of his last 12 starting line-ups, the one omission due to suspension.

A glum-faced Bale was on the bench for the latest win over Girona, before coming on for 23 minutes in the second half.

It is possible Solari was preserving the Welshman, wary of pushing him too much too soon. More instructive will be whether he starts against Alaves in La Liga on Sunday, six days before a city derby away to Atletico Madrid. The pressure will be on to deliver.

By Sunday night, Real could be eight points behind Atletico, who play away at Real Betis earlier in the day, and 13 adrift of Barcelona, who are at home to Valencia on Saturday.

Barca will be chasing a ninth league win in a row but Valencia, after a miserable start, are improving. They have won four out of their last five in all competitions and have their sights set on the top four.

Fixtures (times GMT)


Huesca v Real Valladolid (2000)


Levante v Getafe (1200), Real Sociedad v Athletic Bilbao (1515), Barcelona v Valencia (1730), Celta Vigo v Sevilla (1945)


Villarreal v Espanyol (1100), Real Betis v Atletico Madrid (1515), Eibar v Girona (1730), Real Madrid v Alaves (1945)


Rayo Vallecano v Leganes (2000)

Bale Injury Not Expected To Be Serious – Solari

Again, Bale Under Scrutiny As Madrid Feel The Love For Vinicius
Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale controls the ball during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on October 28, 2018. LLUIS GENE / AFP


Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari believes the calf injury that Gareth Bale sustained against Villarreal on Wednesday is not serious. 

Bale will undergo tests on Saturday to diagnose the extent of the problem after being forced off at half-time at the Estadio de la Ceramica, where Real Madrid drew 2-2.

“We think the injury is not too serious,” Solari said at a press conference on Saturday. “He will go through tests today and we all hope he is back with us quickly.”

Expectations were high for Bale this season following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo last summer but his rhythm has been disrupted by fitness issues.

He has made 22 appearances for Real this term but played 90 minutes only five times.

Bale’s absence could mean a reprieve for Isco, who has been out of favour since Solari took charge but replaced the Welshman against Villarreal.

Real Madrid host Real Sociedad in La Liga on Sunday and, speaking ahead of the game, Solari seemed positive about the prospect of Isco coming in.

“Isco is so good he can play wherever, in any position on the pitch,” Solari said.

“Sometimes it´s not all about speed. You can be effective with your creativity, imagination and technical ability. Every player has different characteristics.”

The draw against Villarreal leaves Madrid fourth in the table, seven points adrift of leaders Barcelona. Madrid have 30 points, which is the club’s lowest total after 17 games in 13 years.

Solari, however, insisted “you cannot underestimate draws”, and added: “The important thing is to keep climbing the table. To get from ninth to fourth has been difficult and we want to keep going. La Liga is long and in times of adversity, you see character.”

Marcelo has been among those criticised, with the defender at fault for Villarreal´s opening goal in midweek. He has returned after suffering a hamstring injury in October.

“Marcelo has had a very difficult injury and it has not been easy for him,” Solari said.

“He is getting his rhythm back and he is a fundamental player for the team and the club. Over a season you can have good and bad games, but we must look after Marcelo.”

As well as Bale, Marco Asensio, Marcos Llorente and Mariano Diaz are all recovering from injuries and expected to miss the game on Sunday.


Ankle Injury Rules Bale Out Of Rayo Vallecano Match

Doctors check on Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale after being fouled during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between Real Madrid CF and CSKA Moscow at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on December 12, 2018. PHOTO: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP


Wales forward Gareth Bale will miss Real Madrid’s Liga match against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday because of an ongoing ankle problem.

Bale took a painful blow to the right ankle during Madrid’s 3-0 defeat by CSKA Moscow in midweek and was visibly struggling at the end of the game.

He didn’t train on Friday when coach Santiago Solari intimated that Bale would miss the match against their Madrid neighbours.

“We will see how ankle improves from yesterday to today and from today to tomorrow,” said Solari. “We will speak to the medical team and with him (Bale).”

Solari’s decision to rest Bale means the Welshman has more time to recover ahead of the Wednesday’s semi-final in the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.


Bale’s Wales Fall To Surprise Defeat By Albania

Bale's Wales Fall To Surprise Defeat By Albania
Albania’s defender Ardian Ismajli (L) and Migjen Basha (R) vie for the ball with Wales’ midfielder Harry Wilson (C) during the friendly football match between Albania and Wales at the Elbasan Arena Stadium in Elbasan on November 20, 2018. Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP


Wales lost 1-0 to Albania in a friendly in Elbasan on Tuesday as Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale was restricted to a second-half cameo as a substitute.

The only goal of the game came as Bekim Balaj converted from the penalty spot after 58 minutes as Derby winger Harry Wilson brought down Taulant Xhaka — brother of Arsenal and Switzerland midfielder Granit — in the box.

Bale came onto the field as did Arsenal playmaker Aaron Ramsey shortly after as coach Ryan Giggs attempted to avoid a surprising defeat to the team ranked 60th in the world but it was to no avail.

In a frustrating evening for the visitors, Bale was shown a yellow card after 83 minutes for a needless tackle on Xhaka.

The best chance for Giggs’s outfit fell to Burnley forward Sam Vokes whose weak effort from five yards out was parried away easily by Albanian goalkeeper Etrit Berisha during stoppage time in the first half.

Defender Chris Gunter captained Wales to became his country’s most-capped male footballer of all time, surpassing former Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall on 93 appearances.

The result was Wales’ second straight loss after being beaten 2-1 to Denmark in the Nations League on Friday.

“It will hurt for a while because we don’t like to lose back-to-back games so it’s disappointing and we’ll take a few days to get over it,” Gunter told television channel S4C.

“I said before the game it wasn’t about myself, it was about the team coming here and putting on a good performance and a good result to end the year which is disappointing,” he added.


Again, Bale Under Scrutiny As Madrid Feel The Love For Vinicius

Again, Bale Under Scrutiny As Madrid Feel The Love For Vinicius
Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale controls the ball during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on October 28, 2018. LLUIS GENE / AFP


“Bale es fantastico”, Real Madrid´s interim coach Santiago Solari said, but still took him off in the 71st minute against Real Valladolid on Saturday.

Madrid were drifting towards a 0-0 draw at their Santiago Bernabeu home and, searching for inspiration, it was Bale´s number 11 that came up.

He departed to whistles from the fans even if Solari, perhaps deliberately, spared him being replaced directly by Vinicius Junior.

Nevertheless, the 18-year-old came on two minutes later and made the difference, his shot deflecting in to give Madrid the lead.

“Another day, Gareth will score,” Solari said. “And everyone will celebrate.”

But those quickest to criticise Bale are circling again ahead of the trip to Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Support for Vinicius has been intense and Bale is seen as the one standing in the way. “Vinicius puts Bale in trouble,” read the front page of AS on Monday.

One week into his still-temporary tenure at Real, Solari is confronting the familiar problem of how to get the best out of Bale, now the team´s most potent threat.

This season, free of both injury and Cristiano Ronaldo, he started well, posting four goals and two assists from his first six games.

But an adductor problem last month, combined with the team´s crash under Julen Lopetegui, disrupted his rhythm. He has returned but is still not fully fit. His performances have lacked edge.

Still, the number of times Bale has been substituted has been a surprise, not least because his withdrawals have often come in the moments when Madrid should need him most.

In his last nine matches, Bale has been taken off seven times, five of those when his team were chasing a goal. Once, with the game at 0-0 against Atletico Madrid, he was replaced due to injury. The other four – while level with Athletic Bilbao and Valladolid, and trailing Barcelona and Alaves – the reasoning was less obvious.

Those calling for Vinicius to take Bale´s spot perhaps overlook the Welshman´s 24 goals in 41 appearances last season. Two of them won Real Madrid the Champions League final in May.

Vinicius, signed from Flamengo for 45 million euros in the summer, is a precocious talent but he has fewer appearances for Real in his career than Bale has goals since August.

“Footballers cannot fight against what goes on around them,” Solari said. “The media, the fans, they are excited about Vinicius and that is fantastic, but his virtues are as evident as his weaknesses and his age. He has had almost no time to mature.”

If Solari believes the excitement around the teenager is worth harnessing, perhaps the Brazilian could slot into a front three alongside Bale, rather than instead of him.

Benzema´s early form has also dipped but he plays the role of an attacking pivot as well as anyone. Marco Asensio, who started against Valladolid, has been quiet while Isco is still regaining fitness after appendix surgery.

Finding the right combination, and extracting more from Bale, is likely to be top of Solari´s priorities.

Discounting the Copa del Rey win over Melilla, who play in Spain´s third tier, four of Madrid´s last five goals have come from their left-back, central defender and an own-goal. “It’s a very bad patch we’ve gone through,” said Sergio Ramos on Saturday.

Club president Florentino Perez could yet be tempted into the transfer market in January, particularly after UEFA abolished their rule on players being cup-tied in European competitions. Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski or Eden Hazard are no longer restricted like before.

But for Solari, the time is now. Beat Plzen on Wednesday and even a draw away to Celta Vigo this weekend might earn him the job until the end of the season.

A lack of alternatives means Perez would do well to look again in the summer, as long as Solari can keep them ticking over in the meantime. To do it, he will need goals, and Bale.


Bale Boosts Wales Nations League Promotion Hopes


Real Madrid star Gareth Bale is back in the Wales squad for a crucial Nations League group clash with Denmark after missing last month’s international matches.

The 29-year-old winger — who was unavailable for the friendly against Spain and the Nations League win over Ireland because of muscle fatigue — is fit after playing in the last four of Real’s matches.

Bale features among the 26-man squad selected by Ryan Giggs for the home match with the Danes on November 16 with the hosts sitting atop the group on four points, two ahead of their opponents.

Victory would see the Welsh promoted from League B to League A.

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey and Chelsea youngster Ethan Ampadu are also back after missing the Ireland game last month.

Defender James Lawrence, who plays for Belgian giants Anderlecht, has been called up for the first time.

The 26-year-old joined the Belgian outfit from Slovakian team AS Trenčín, where he played 117 matches.

Former clubs as a youth player include Arsenal, Queens Park Rangers, Ajax and Sparta Rotterdam.

Wales will also play a friendly with Albania on November 20 in Elbasan.


Bale Fit To Play As Madrid Target Win Against Alaves

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale Photo : CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP


Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui has confirmed Gareth Bale is fit and ready to play as Real Madrid look to end their goal drought against Alaves on Saturday. 

Madrid have gone three games without scoring, after their surprise Champions League loss to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday followed a draw against Atletico Madrid and defeat to Sevilla.

Bale came off at half-time against Atletico last weekend and sat out the trip to Russia in midweek after feeling discomfort in his groin. Tests, however, have shown the injury is not serious.

“He’s fine, he has trained well,” Lopetegui said on Friday. “He detected some discomfort so he left the derby at half-time but he is ready. He is an important player, we know that.”

Madrid sit level on points with leaders Barcelona in La Liga but their lack of cutting edge up front is a concern.

Karim Benzema’s early-season form has evaporated while injuries to Bale and Isco, as well as full-backs Marcelo and Dani Carvajal, have contributed to a lack of creativity.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence, following his summer move to Juventus, is being more keenly felt.

“This is Madrid, we have to expect the criticism,” Lopetegui said. “We are confident we can overcome the problems. We have spent better times but worse times too.

“It seems everything is not wonderful at the moment but there are positives.

“We are joint first in the Champions League group and I have no doubt the team will pick up from where they left off in the first game against Roma. We deserved to beat CSKA but this is football.”

Lopetegui said Marcelo and Carvajal could be sidelined for a “few weeks”, with both players recovering from calf injuries.

Nacho is likely to take over at left back while on the right, Alvaro Odriozola replaced Carvajal against CSKA and could continue.


Injured Bale Misses Champions League Trip To Moscow

Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale reacts during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 29, 2018. OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP


Gareth Bale has been left out of Real Madrid’s squad to face CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday. 

Bale picked up a thigh injury during the goalless draw with Atletico Madrid on Saturday and had to come off at half-time.

He will miss the reigning European champions’ Group G game in Russia, along with captain Sergio Ramos, who was also omitted from the squad announced on Sunday.

Ramos sustained a cut above his eye against Atletico but, despite briefly leaving the field for treatment, was able to complete the match.

Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui said after the game Bale had been replaced as a “precaution” at the Santiago Bernabeu and the Welshman would be assessed on Sunday.

The club will be hoping the damage is not serious, with a crunch match against Barcelona in La Liga approaching on October 28.

Marcelo and Isco were also absentees from Madrid’s squad to face CSKA. Marcelo has a calf problem while Isco is recovering from an appendix operation.