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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Will Gareth Bale play for Real Madrid against Liverpool?

The Welshman is in Carlo Ancelotti’s squad for the Champions League final against Liverpool after making just seven appearances for the side this season.

Update:
Bale ready for Champions League final
Harriet Lander/CopaGetty

Gareth Bale has announced his readiness for the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, which will be played at the Stade de France on Saturday evening. The Wales international is in Carlo Ancelotti’s squad for the game in what will be his final participation for the LaLiga champions after eight seasons at the Bernabéu. During his Madrid career, Bale has scored 106 goals in 258 appearances and won 15 titles, including three Liga crowns and four Champions Leagues. The Welshman’s contribution to Madrid’s success over the last decade is often overlooked by the club’s fans, but it is undeniable and bookended by two match-winning performances in the 2013-14 Copa del Rey and the 2018 Champions League final.

Bale delivers on the big stage

In the former, Bale provided the winner against Barcelona with a customary burst of pace to leave Marc Bartra in his wake before firing past José Manuel Pinto, and in the latter he came off the bench to defy Zinedine Zidane – the two shared a frosty relationship – with a two-goal display. Bale’s first went down as one of the greatest in the history of the competition, an overhead kick from the edge of the area slamming into the back of the net, while his second compounded a miserable evening for Liverpool keeper Loris Karius, who allowed the Welshman’s shot from distance to slip through his gloves.

This season, Bale has been restricted to a handful of appearances under Carlo Ancelotti due to injuries and has faced criticism for being available for Wales but rarely in the squad for Madrid. The Italian remains a firm admirer of Bale, the pair having worked together during Ancelotti’s first spell at the Bernabéu, and started him in the first three league games of the season where the forward was in decent form and fitness. Almost inevitably though, knee and calf injuries ruled Bale out for most of the remainder of 2021 and he has appeared sporadically since, starting against Villarreal in February in the absence of Karim Benzema and then making a cameo against Getafe in April – his last game for the side.

Gareth Bale of Real Madrid during training at Stade de France
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Gareth Bale of Real Madrid during training at Stade de FranceRobbie Jay Barratt - AMAGetty

Bale swansong against Liverpool?

Overall, Bale has made just seven appearances for Madrid this season, for a total of 290 minutes, and in the Champions League he has played just seven minutes, so the likelihood of Ancelotti handing the 32-year-old a nostalgic turn in the Stade de France is remote, unless Madrid are cruising around five minutes from time. It would be a fitting end to Bale’s Madrid career, even if he has not really played a part in Madrid’s 2021-22 campaign, but if it does not come to pass, Madrid fans with the power of long-term memory will remember 2014 and 2018 as he goes silently into the Parisian night.

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