Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale will ‘deliver’ after returning from injury
Carlo Ancelotti has backed Gareth Bale to ‘deliver’ to Real Madrid for the rest of the season and hailed the striker’s ‘committed’ attitude in training after returning from his latest injury setback.
Bale, 32, hasn’t played for his club since August and has been an unused substitute in Madrid’s last four games.
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Madrid are entering a crucial period, traveling to sixth-place La Liga Villarreal on Saturday before facing Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday.
“He’s training well and he’s committed,” Ancelotti told a press conference on Friday when asked if Bale could still contribute this year. “It’s one thing to see something in training and quite another to see it in a game.
“I think when I pick him he will deliver. You might ask why I haven’t picked him yet, but since his last injury he has struggled to get back to good physical condition…I think he is ready to play.”
Bale – whose contract at the Bernabeu expires in June – started Madrid’s first three league games this season before injuries to thigh, calf and hamstring muscles ruled him out so far for the rest of the campaign.
During this period, he has played more games for his country, Wales, making four appearances and notably scoring a hat-trick in their World Cup qualifier in Belarus in September.
Even with Bale back in training for the past few weeks, Ancelotti preferred to choose either Marco Asensio or Rodrygo on the right side of Madrid’s attack.
Ancelotti also added that there were “good feelings” about Karim Benzema’s chances of returning for the PSG game, with the team’s top scorer in a race to recover from a muscle problem in time.
“He trained individually. We will have to wait for him to start training with the team and then make a decision,” Ancelotti said. “Until Sunday or Monday, I won’t be able to say, but everyone’s feelings – me, him, the doctors – are positive.”
“The player’s health comes first,” he added. “If we think Karim can play, he will play risk-free. If there is any risk, we won’t take it. We have to assess him, we have four days to decide.”
Madrid’s clash with PSG is arguably the most publicized match of this Champions League Round of 16, with much of the focus on the PSG striker – and Madrid’s transfer target – Kylian Mbappe.
On Thursday, PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said former Madrid captain Sergio Ramos was a big injury doubt while Neymar was also racing to recover from an ankle problem.