Bale injury not expected to be serious, says coach Solari
Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari believes the calf injury that Gareth Bale sustained against Villarreal on Wednesday is not serious. Bale will undergo tests on Saturday to diagnose the extent of the problem after being forced off at half-time at the Estadio de la Ceramica, where Real Madrid drew 2-2. "We think the injury is not too serious," Solari said at a press conference on Saturday. "He will go through tests today and we all hope he is back with us quickly."
Expectations were high for Bale this season following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo last summer but his rhythm has been disrupted by fitness issues. He has made 22 appearances for Real this term but played 90 minutes only five times. Bale's absence could mean a reprieve for Isco, who has been out of favour since Solari took charge but replaced the Welshman against Villarreal. Real Madrid host Real Sociedad in La Liga on Sunday and, speaking ahead of the game, Solari seemed positive about the prospect of Isco coming in.
"Isco is so good he can play wherever, in any position on the pitch," Solari said. "Sometimes it�s not all about speed. You can be effective with your creativity, imagination and technical ability. Every player has different characteristics." The draw against Villarreal leaves Madrid fourth in the table, seven points adrift of leaders Barcelona. Madrid have 30 points, which is the club's lowest total after 17 games in 13 years. Solari, however, insisted "you cannot underestimate draws", and added: "The important thing is to keep climbing the table. To get from ninth to fourth has been difficult and we want to keep going. La Liga is long and in times of adversity, you see character."
Marcelo has been among those criticised, with the defender at fault for Villarreal�s opening goal in midweek. He has returned after suffering a hamstring injury in October. "Marcelo has had a very difficult injury and it has not been easy for him," Solari said. "He is getting his rhythm back and he is a fundamental player for the team and the club. Over a season you can have good and bad games, but we must look after Marcelo." As well as Bale, Marco Asensio, Marcos Llorente and Mariano Diaz are all recovering from injuries and expected to miss the game on Sunday.
(With inputs from agencies.)