Zinedine Zidane defends the bbC to the hilt. “For me, they’re the best,” he said during the media day ahead of the Champions League final. The reality, however, seems rather different. If Real Madrid consider the Champions League to be the ultimate test, the writing is on the wall for the attacking trident. Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, and Cristiano Ronaldo have not been on the pitch together at any point on Madrid’s road to Kiev.
Ronaldo suspended, Bale, Benzema injured
Not since the first leg of last season’s quarter-final with Bayern Munich have the trio lined up together in Europe. And between that match on 12 April 2017 and a LaLiga clash against Deportivo on 21 January 2018, they did not share the pitch at all. Ronaldo’s suspension at the start of the campaign coupled with injuries to Benzema and Bale to lead to such a lengthy absence.
Yet even when Zidane has all three available, they are no longer guaranteed a starting berth. Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo spent just 416 minutes together across nine LaLiga matches in the final four months of the season.
Bale's LaLiga form could salvage Kiev spot
Ronaldo has been a guaranteed starter in the Champions League. Yet his two trident companions have struggled to force their way in to the line-up. Both Benzema and Bale watched from the bench as Madrid faced Bayern in the semi-final in Munich, although Benzema did show his worth with two goals against the Bundesliga champions in the return leg at the Bernabéu.
Bale has only played 99 minutes in the knockout stages. He came on as a substitute in both legs against PSG and warmed the bench against Juventus in Turin. After that match, a 0-3 win, Bale appeared sullen as his fellow substitutes celebrated each goal. The Wales winger is the most precarious of the bbC, although his fruitful end to the LaLiga season could be enough to secure a place in the team to face Liverpool.