Real Madrid could be without Bale for UCL second leg

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Real Madrid completed their first task in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, and while the Spanish side will have the benefit of playing in front of its home crowd in four days, Zinedine Zidane and his club have their work cut out.

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The former French international confirmed on Friday that Real will be without Gareth Bale for the team’s weekend match against Sporting Gijon and could potentially miss out on the second leg clash with Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Bale has picked up a calf injury during Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Bayern, but the setback is a concerning one for the Welshman — who has previously had issues with his calf.

“Bale will not be with us tomorrow, that’s clear,” Zidane said. “Then we will see for Tuesday. For sure he has something, a bit of a bruise in his calf. It’s a muscle injury, where he has had problems before.

“And we will take no risks with Gareth. We will go game by game and make decisions that way. We hope to have him back soon. Of course I am worried as I don’t like to have players injured, even more towards the end of the season.”

With Bale potentially unable to go when the tie shifts to the Santiago Bernabeu, Marco Asensio and outcast James Rodriguez could be in line to start for Los Blancos.

Rodriguez has long been linked with a move away from the Spanish capital, but perhaps a strong performance in the UCL could change that narrative… or at least temporarily.