Bale’s bid to get back to his best

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

REAL Madrid winger Gareth Bale is look­ing to build on by far his best week since ar­riv­ing in the Span­ish cap­i­tal when Carlo Ancelotti’s side host Real So­ciedad this week­end.

The Welsh­man opened his Cham­pi­ons League ac­count for the club he joined in Septem­ber with a won­der­ful strike in Madrid’s 2-2 draw with Ju­ven­tus on Wed­nes­day that all but se­cured the Span­ish side’s place in the last 16.

Bale, also scored twice and pro­vided four as­sists in Real’s pre­vi­ous two games against Sevilla and Rayo Val­le­cano as he, Cris­tiano Ronaldo and Karim Ben­zema be­gin to forge a deadly com­bi­na­tion up front.

Ronaldo be­lieves Bale is be­gin­ning to find his feet.

“He is very im­por­tant for us and I think he is go­ing to help us a lot. Things are go­ing well for him at the minute,” Ronaldo said.

Ronaldo has al­ready found the net 21 times in 1 6 games this sea­son but in­sists his per­sonal statis­tics will mean noth­ing if Madrid end up emp­ty­handed again come the end of the cam­paign.

And with Los Blan­cos al­ready trail­ing Barcelona by six points, he knows there is lit­tle room for er­ror against their Basque visi­tors to­day.

“Per­son­ally, I am very happy, I am in a very good mo­ment in my ca­reer. All my team­mates and the fans are sup­port­ing me.

“Records don’t ex­cite me. What ex­cites me is that I want to win things, I want a fu­ture that is bet­ter than the pre­sent.”

Ser­gio Ramos is Ancelotti’s only ma­jor ab­sen­tee as he is sus­pended so Dani Car­va­jal or Al­varo Ar­be­loa w i l l re­turn a t r i g ht - back.

Real can pro­vi­sion­ally close to within three points of Barça and two of Atletico Madrid with a win as nei­ther of the top two are in ac­tion un­til to­mor­row.

The Cata­lans travel to strug­gling Real Betis boosted by the re­turn to scor­ing form of Lionel Messi, who found the net twice in Wed­nes­day’s 3-1 win over AC Mi­lan to book their place in the knock-out stages of the Cham­pi­ons League.

“I’m calm about my re­cu­per­a­tion from in­jury. I’m get­ting my rhythm back bit by bit and I think it re­ally helps to have 90 min­utes, then an­other 90, back to back so I can grad­u­ally re-es­tab­lish the tempo and the form I had be­fore the in­jury,” he told uefa.com.

“It just helps phys­i­cally. This time there have been two in­juries re­ally close to­gether and that kind of im­pact you do no­tice. But I’m def­i­nitely get­ting past it and I’m happy with my form.”

Ger­ard Pique is the only ma­jor doubt for Ger­ardo Mar­tino’s side as he con­tin­ues to strug­gle with a groin prob­lem so Car­les Puyol could part­ner Javier Mascher­ano in de­fence.

The game of the week­end, though, sees in-form Atletico travel to fourth­placed Vil­lar­real.

Atletico also booked their place in the Cham­pi­ons League last 16 on Wed­nes­day with a 4-0 win over Aus­tria Vi­enna with Diego Costa net­ting his 16th goal in as many games this sea­son.

And Costa’s fan­tas­tic cam­paign con­tin­ued on Thurs­day when he was called into the Spain squad for the first time by coach Vi­cente del Bosque. – Sapa-AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.