With Cristiano Ronaldo suspended, Gareth Bale takes center stage against Real Sociedad


Real Madrid’s two consecutive losses against Valencia in La Liga and Atletico Madrid in Copa del Rey Round 16 had Los Blancos, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s impact was limited in both matches.

Ronaldo has watched his heavily-talented squad get back on track as of late, retaining a three-game winning run in league play, but his chance to influence the outcome of Real’s next competition will not exist.

Gareth Bale, who is paced to best his 22-goal total from his first year (2013-14) at the Bernabeu, will replace Ronaldo against David Moyes’ Real Sociedad on Saturday. The three-time Ballon d’Or winner was suspended for two games, including this one, due to his hazardous challenge on Edimar in a 2-1 victory over Cordoba a week ago.

[RELATED: Ronaldo handed two-game ban]

“Top quality players have more to deal with, jersey pulls and fouls, but that is normal,” manager Carlo Ancelotti said of the situation. “[Cristiano] was the first to apologise for his reaction. He made a mistake, he knows that, and he apologized.”

Ancelotti detailed that the former Tottenham Hotspur standout will slot into the left wing spot, where Ronaldo usually performs. The Italian boss believes James Rodriquez is more suited for the right side.

“[Bale] will change his position,” he said to ESPN FC. “He will play on the left. I prefer to have James on the right wing. But we will play the same way. We will defend with a 4-4-2 and James will have a position further forward in attack. We are not going to change the system.”

[TRANSFER TALK: Bale dismisses Manchester United speculation | Iker to MLS?]

Regardless of the positioning of Madrid’s wealth of skilled footballers, Ancelotti shouldn’t endure much trouble against the Royals, who have only won once in their past five fixtures and sit in the middle of the table at 11th place.