Real Madrid: Zidane has sentenced Bale
Zidane has not called up Bale to the squad for the visit of Sevilla on Saturday, with the club confirming to AS that his exclusion is not due to any physical issue.
Following a week of calm after the Super Cup triumph last Sunday, still waters have begun to quiver again at Real Madrid.
Zinedine Zidane decided not to include Gareth Bale – who missed the Supercup tournament in Saudi Arabia due to a chest infection – in his squad for the match against Sevilla this Saturday.
The Welshman had managed to train all week and the club has assured AS that he currently has no physical issues. Hence, everything would indicate that Bale’s omission is purely for technical reasons.
Zidane has also left out Sergio Ramos, James and Mariano for the visit of Sevilla – the captain is recovering from a sprained ankle, while the latter two’s exclusion is also down to coaching decisions.
While the team were in Saudi Arabia last week, both Bale and Karim Benzema (who missed the trip through injury) continued to train at Madrid’s Valdebebas training base. This week, the Welshman has trained normally, as images published on the club’s website can attest.
Even on Friday morning, in the last session of the week, the British winger worked at the same pace as the rest of the squad. But, unfortunately for him, he will watch the Sevilla game from the Bernabéu stands as he has done so on many occasions this season.
A case of nothing changes with Bale
It is true that Bale has been given plenty of minutes throughout the this campaign despite not having Zidane's affections.
His statements in Kiev after the Champions League final against Liverpool ("Obviously I need to play every week, something that hasn’t been the case this season… I’ll have to sit down with my agent and talk about it,”) dropped like a bomb onto the board of directors. Zizou, a formidable team manager who values the group above all other elements, also saw it as an attack on his habitat.
Soon after, the French coach ended up leaving due to differences with the president. Upon his return, he assured that “things were going to change”. But in the case of Bale, not only has nothing changed, it just keeps going round and round.
From good to worse: Bale's situation this season
The Welshman (whose 17-million-euro salary and contract until 2022 are other obstacles to his possible sale) had started the season well, despite Zidane’s pre-season admissions that he wanted to get rid of him (“If he leaves tomorrow, great”).
He played as a starter against Celta Vigo, providing an assist for Benzema in the goal that opened LaLiga for Los Blancos. He then netted a brace on the third day of the season against Villarreal. But his scoring stopped there and he has now gone 140 days without a goal.
Then, little by little, what seemed like a problem that was being solved gradually turned 180 degrees. It started when a rightfully taken measure by Zidane (who left the Welshman out of the squad for the first Champions League opening match against Club Brugge in order to give him a rest) stirred Bale up the wrong way. He arrived late to the stadium at 18:59; four minutes after the game had started at 18:55 – although it is true that there was hellish traffic around the stadium that day.
That same month of October he left to play for the Welsh national team and came back injured. He did not play for a month and then took off again to play for Wales.
Then, after the Dragons secured their ticket to Euro 2020 with a win in their final qualifying game, Bale once again filled the headlines after his controversial celebration with the now-notorious "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order” flag. His decision struck a nerve with Madrid fans, who loudly jeered and whistled him when he came on against Real Sociedad (3-1) at the Bernabéu on November 23.
His relationship with the Bernabéu stands has been on a roller coaster. After receiving their applause, the fans seem to have grown tired of him due to his ongoing behaviour, from imitating golf swings during training (he even received the gift of a golf club at the team’s Christmas dinner at the beginning of December), to playing the bottle flip challenge while on the bench at the Mestalla.
Bale appears to be absent from everything that surrounds the team. And Zidane, who continues to ensure that he counts on all of his players, has already grown tired of the Welshman’s attitude.