Bale set for Spanish debut

Record-breaking winger will make Primera Division debut against Villarreal on Saturday, but likely to start from bench.

    Bale set for Spanish debut
    Bale was on duty for Wales this week, but only played the final half hour [GETTY]

    Barcelona have been careful to break new recruit Neymar in gently during the opening weeks of the Primera Division season and Real Madrid are likely to follow a similar policy with Gareth Bale, even with several key players carrying injuries.

    Football’s richest club by income, who like champions Barca have a perfect nine points from three matches, splashed a record $133 million to secure Bale's services and he could make his debut at promoted Villarreal in Saturday's late kickoff .

    The 24-year-old winger played the final half hour of Wales's 3-0 World Cup qualification defeat at home to Serbia on Tuesday, his first competitive action since July, and coach Chris Coleman warned afterwards it would be unwise for him to play a full match this weekend considering his relative lack of fitness.

     

    Spanish fixtures

    Saturday 14 September

    Atl Madrid v Almeria
    Levante v Real Sociedad
    Barcelona v Sevilla
    Villarreal v Real Madrid

    Saturday 15 September

    Granada v Espanyol
    Getafe v Osasuna
    Malaga v Rayo Vallecano
    Real Betis v Valencia

    Monday 16 September

    Elche v Valladolid
    At Bilbao v Celta de Vigo

    After arriving in the Spanish capital on Wednesday, Bale had his first workout with his new team mates and although Real have a number of players injured, coach Carlo Ancelotti is unlikely to deploy him from the start at the Madrigal.

    Few injuries

    Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo, Spain playmaker Isco and Brazil fullback Marcelo all returned from international duty with problems of varying degrees of seriousness.

    Ronaldo and Isco trained apart from the rest of the squad on Wednesday, while Marcelo had treatment from medical staff along with long-term absentee Xabi Alonso.

    Villarreal, along with Atletico Madrid the only other team to win their opening three games, are eager to test themselves against opponents of Real's calibre after spending a year in the second division last term.

    Under coach Marcelino they have shown real attacking flair and their performances so far this term suggest they are more likely to be challenging for a place in Europe than flirting with relegation come the end of the campaign.

    "It's a chance to show that we can compete with anyone and that we can fight against a team like Madrid," captain Bruno Soriano told a news conference on Wednesday.

    "Last year, we were dreaming about playing these teams and now the opportunity has arrived and we want to put in a great performance," the midfielder added.

    "Personally I prefer it if an opponent is at full strength and that the best come so we can take them on.

    "Although even if Madrid has some players out, I am sure they will have the same level of quality."

    Fitness questions

    Barca are waiting on the fitness of midfielder Sergio Busquets and fullback Daniel Alves as they prepare to host Sevilla on Saturday.

    Coach Gerardo Martino has used Neymar sparingly in the early stages of Barca's title defence, although he did play 90 minutes of the 3-2 victory at Valencia in their last league outing before the international break.

    The Brazil forward shone for his country in friendly victories against Australia and Portugal over the past week, scoring a goal in each game including a trademark sprint through the Portuguese defence followed by a clinical finish.

    Barca's World Player of the Year Lionel Messi also returned on Wednesday after helping Argentina secure qualification for next year's World Cup in Brazil with two penalties in a 5-2 success in Paraguay.

    Messi missed the 1-0 win at Malaga last month before notching a hat-trick at Valencia to take his tally for the season to five goals in two games including a double at home to Levante in the opening round of matches.

    Atletico, who are at home to promoted Almeria on Saturday, made a couple of new signings this month, bringing in Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld from Ajax Amsterdam and France midfielder Josuha Guilavogui from St Etienne.

    Fellow Champions League participants Real Sociedad, who lost 2-1 at home to Atletico in their most recent outing, play at Levante, also on Saturday.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    When somebody dies lonely and alone, Miyu Kojima steps in to clean their home and organise the mementos of their life.

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    The rise of the Orthodox Church in Russia appears unstoppable, write filmmakers Glen Ellis and Viktoryia Kolchyna who went to investigate the close ties between the church and Putin.

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    Much of India's media spurns a scoop about the son of PM Modi's right-hand man. Plus, NFL as platform for race politics.