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The 'BBC' have clocked 37% of the team's games since 2013

Real Madrid's attacking trio: Bale, Benzema and Cristiano have only played 49% of the team's games together; this season, coinciding in 13 games.

The 'BBC' have clocked 37% of the team's games since 2013

"I like playing alongside Karim and if he's not available, it's more difficult. I also enjoy playing with Bale and when he's not around it's more difficult... That's not to say that Jesé, Lucas Vázquez and Kovacic are not good players, they are, but...". Cristiano Ronaldo caused a few raised eyebrows with his recent comments about Real Madrid's ongoing injury problems, later explaining that he was referring to the team's physical power. And he is right: the feared 'BBC', Madrid attacking trio of Bale, Benzema and Cristiano, have only been togethert on the pitch in 13 of the team's 34 games this season, just 38%.

Being under-strength in attack is not esxclusive to the 2015-16 season, with Benítez and now Zidane at the controls: the 'BBC' have played together in 76 matches out of the 153 played during the last two and half seasons, in total - 49% of the team's games. The figures are even more telling when you look at the minutes the three players have spent out on the pitch at the same time - 5,167 minutes out of the 13,770 since Bale joined Madrid. That accounts for 37%.

Individually, the player out of the three who has been absent the most is Gareth Bale. A persistent calf problem  (he has suffered six injuries in that zone, the most recent affecting his right leg) has meant he's missed 44 games in two and half years. This season, he has not be available for 17 of Madrid's games - more than any other member of the squad. As for Benzema, he could be out for the next three weeks with a thigh muscle injury; he has been left out of the list 29 times, just 8 this season. Cristiano, who religiously follows his own training regime outside of work, has suffered the least fitness problems of all of them - in three seasons, he's missed just 19 games and since August, he's played in every single one of Madrid's matches apart from the ill-fated Cup tie at Cádiz.

On top of the frequency of Madrid's injury problems, the other determining factor is the timing: Bale and Cristiano missed the end of the 2013-14 season, Ancelotti's first season in charge. The No.7 was ruled out of the Copa del Rey final for a hamstring tear and both only just recovered in time for the final assault on the Champions League to lift La Décima. The BBC were present for 26 games out of 60 (43%, although in terms of playing time together, 31%). Last season it was the Welsh winger and Benzema who ended the campaign on the treatment table - Bale with his poorly calf and Karim with a knee complaint. And yet that was the trio's best in terms of avoiding injuries: they featured together on the pitch 37 times in 59 games (63%, in actula playing time, 49%). This summer's EURO 2016 will be an excuse for all three to remain injury-free, especially Bale, who will be determined not to miss Wales' first appearance in the tournament.


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