Zinedine Zidane insists he has no problem with Gareth Bale despite substituting him at half-time during Real Madrid´s Champions League clash against Juventus last week. Sources have told AFP that Bale was surprised and angry at Zidane´s decision to take him off at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Real trailing 2-0 in a match they went on to lose 3-1. The defending champions progressed 4-3 on aggregate.
Bale was then not included in the squad for Sunday´s 2-1 win over Malaga in La Liga but Real insisted the plan had always been to rest players for the match. Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Raphael Varane were also spared the trip to La Rosaleda.
Real host Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday and Bale will be hoping for another chance to state his case ahead of the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich next week. Against Juve, Karim Benzema made way for Bale by dropping to the bench but Zidane says neither player feels sidelined by recent selections.
“No I don´t think so, this is football,” Zidane said on Tuesday. “I dont see either of them looking sad, they are training well. I spoke to the pair of them the other day, they would both like to score more goals but everyone is working well. It is always going to happen in a side like ours. There are players in good form and playing well but I have to be ready always to evaluate who is the best players for the team at any given time.”
Zidane has prefered Benzema as a partner for Ronaldo up front this season but the Frenchman has managed only one goal in his last nine games.
“We are not worried, we know the quality he has,” Zidane said. “He has to score goals of course, he knows that - he knows he can do other things but he has to score goals. He does suffer a little bit when he misses chances but the solution is easy. He has to keep working. It is just a little blip he is in at the moment - we had that as a team earlier in the season but we kept working. If he keeps working, I´m sure in a short time he will be scoring again.”
Real are chasing an unprecedented third consecutive Champions League crown and Bayern’s hopes of stopping them have been dented by an injury to key midfielder, Arturo Vidal. Vidal is set to undergo surgery on a knee problem and looks certain to miss the first leg.
“Vidal is an important player but nothing will change,” Zidane said. “Bayern have a very big squad, with lots of good players, and they will replace him for sure.”