SOCCER | REAL MADRID
Real Madrid: Bale set to return with Hazard in exile under Ancelotti
Gareth Bale trained on Thursday and is set for his first Real Madrid appearance since August 28 as Ancelotti's doubts over Hazard and Asensio continue.
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has lost Rodrygo until after the upcoming international break but could be able to call on Gareth Bale earlier than expected for the game against Rayo this weekend. The Wales forward has been on the sidelines since 28 August when he injured his knee in the match against Betis and was not expected to return before the latest round of FIFA fixtures but trained with the squad on Thursday and is line for a place in the squad for the visit of Madrid’s high-flying neighbours.
Bale did not complete the full session with the rest of the squad but played a part and he will be assessed again during the final session before the match on Friday. For both Bale and Ancelotti, it represents an opportunity with Rodrygo unavailable and the Italian tactician seemingly have lost faith in both Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio to occupy the role on the right of the Madrid attack.
The Welshman began the season as Ancelotti’s preferred option alongside Vinicius and Karim Benzema and started the opening three Liga games of the campaign, chalking up 193 minutes and finding the net in the 3-3 draw against Levante at the Ciutat de València before injury curtailed his contribution. Meanwhile, Hazard and Asensio, who have both also had layoffs but none as lengthy as Bales, have managed only 408 and 377 respectively across all competitions. Hazard failed to get off the bench against Shakhtar in midweek after five minutes against Elche last weekend and has not started a game since September.
Ancelotti sweating on Benzema
Karim Benzema on the other hand is Madrid’s fourth most-used player this season behind Thibaut Courtois, Éder Militão and David Alaba and has scored 13 times in 14 games, as well as striking up an extremely profitable partnership with the hugely improved Vinicius, who has nine in 15.
However, the France striker remained in the gym on Thursday after feeling a muscle issue in the closing stages against Shakhtar and it remains to be seen if he is fit enough to lead the line against Rayo, who beat Barcelona a week ago and are in sixth in the table.