After approximately a three-month absence, Gareth Bale is back in Real Madrid’s squad. The Welsh winger injured his ankle back in mid-November against Sporting CP and required surgery. Now, Zinedine Zidane has named the 27-year-old in his squad for Saturday’s match against Espanyol.
Bale’s recovery forced him to miss 17 games for Los Blancos, including an all-important Clasico against Barcelona on Dec. 3. To say Real Madrid have floundered without him would be a bit unfair, but their 40-match unbeaten run ended while Bale was on the mend. They also toppled out of the Copa del Rey at the hands of Celta Vigo. In all, Madrid went 11-4-2 without Bale, so, it’s safe to say they certainly missed him in a noticeable capacity.
Getting Bale back ahead of a congested match schedule is a boon for the Champions League title-holders, though. He’ll be eased back into the team as Los Blancos look at a busy finish to the season. As it stands, the La Liga leaders still have two makeup league matches to squeeze into their slate of fixtures.
With Bale back in the fold, that should allow for squad rotation at the very least.
“He [Bale] will feature in the squad tomorrow and I’d like to give him some minutes,” Zidane said, via the team’s website. “He is raring to go and get back into things and we’re happy that almost all of the players are back.”
Having Bale, who notched seven goals and two assists in 16 appearances across the Champions League and La Liga, also takes some of the load off of Cristiano Ronald and Karim Benzema. With a fit squad, Zidane can finally get the “BBC” back together for the home stretch of the season.