Real Madrid willing to roll the dice over Gareth Bale for season-defining clasico

The Welshman will have the final say on whether he feels fit, but Madrid's willingness to throw him into the mix perhaps showcases just how desperate they've become

Ed Malyon
Sport Editor
Wednesday 20 December 2017 19:36 GMT
Gareth Bale's season has been plagued by repeated injury
Gareth Bale's season has been plagued by repeated injury (Getty)

Gareth Bale seems to partake in more races to be fit than actual foot races these days, but there is at least some confidence that the Welshman might be in Real Madrid’s starting line-up for this weekend’s clásico.

Ultimately the decision will come down to Bale himself, with sources close to the player saying that the Welsh international will be allowed to decide if he is 100 per cent and, if he is, then he will start at the Bernabeu in a game that will be played out to a highly-charged political backdrop – coming just days after elections in Catalonia.

For 28-year-old Bale, whose future in Madrid is increasingly the subject of whispers, this could be a final clásico at the Bernabeu and he is determined to make an impact after months of frustration with calf problems. Cristiano Ronaldo, another fitness doubt, still hopes to partner him as Real Madrid seek to slash Barcelona’s eleven-point lead atop La Liga.

In an effort to keep Bale in cotton wool ahead of this weekend’s clash, Real Madrid handed him just twenty minutes as a substitute over two games at the Club World Cup. Another global title, achieved through wins over Al-Jazira and Gremio, is nice but the Spanish club know that fans care far more about their domestic success than knocking off the champions of the UAE and Brazil’s fourth-placed team.

But the lessons of history are there. Bale was rushed back for April’s clásico and had to come off with an injury that would later cost him the experience of wining the Champions League in his hometown of Cardiff, ending in a bittersweet experience for the wideman as he watched his teammates dispatch Juventus 4-1.

Zinedine Zidane, of course, would love to be able to count on Bale for a game of this magnitude and with Real Madrid so desperately in need of points. While the Wales international is often disproportionately less effective when not playing at 100 per cent – a familiar issue for explosive players, including Sergio Aguero – making a full comeback and first start since September feels risky in such a high-profile game.

The decision, they say, will be up to Bale and how he feels even if logic suggests that Real Madrid should take a more considered approach. Perhaps, with their La Liga title hopes slipping away, they don’t have a choice in the matter.

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