Real Madrid will get their first indication of whether £86m was money well spent when world-record signing Gareth Bale makes his La Liga debut at Villarreal tonight.
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said Bale, whose pre-season was disrupted by protracted negotiations over his move from Tottenham, would be involved at some point at the Madrigal but that the left-footed winger would likely be used on the right side.
The intimation from Ancelotti was that the Welshman would not depose Cristiano Ronaldo on the Real left wing and will be forced to play out of position at the start of his career in Madrid.
The Wales winger played the final half-hour of Wales’s 3-0 World Cup qualification defeat at home to Serbia on Tuesday, his first game since July, and trained with his Real team-mates for the first time on Wednesday.
“I think everyone knows his pre-season was not normal but his physical condition is not bad,” Ancelotti said. “Tomorrow he will travel with the team and he will play. I don’t know if he will start but he will definitely play some of the match.
“I don’t think now is the right moment to leave him out of the team. He is going to work [on his fitness] and play at the same time. He is very excited and very motivated.”
Real have won their opening three league matches under Ancelotti, who replaced Jose Mourinho at the end of last season, but a number of players returned from international duty with injuries and are unavailable for the Villarreal game.
Ignacio Fernandez, who made his debut for Spain in their 2-2 draw against Chile on Tuesday, will fill in at left-back in the absence of Brazil’s Marcelo and Portugal’s Fabio Coentrao, Ancelotti said. Cristiano Ronaldo and Isco had recovered from minor problems and were available, he added.
The former Milan, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain coach was also quizzed about the departure of Mesut Ozil to Arsenal on the final day of the transfer window. The wisdom of selling the Germany playmaker has been questioned as he was one of Real’s most creative players and had developed an effective partnership with Ronaldo. Ozil said he moved to London because he realised Ancelotti did not have sufficient confidence in him.
“It’s clear that no player would leave Real Madrid if he didn’t want to,” Ancelotti said. “We have played three games and he started two of them but with the arrivals of Bale and Isco the player thought he had a lot of competition and asked to leave.
“It was a technical decision and we are not lacking in anything. In my opinion it was a good offer and everyone is happy. Lots of luck to Ozil.”
Meanwhile, Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has recovered from a leg injury and has been included in the squad for tonight’s home game against Seville.