Bayern face familiar Champions League fate in Madrid

Bale picked up his latest calf muscle problem in Wednesday's 2-1 first leg win in Germany, and although Madrid have not confirmed the extent of the problem, he has not trained with his teammates since and missed Saturday's 3-2 La Liga victory at Sporting Gijon.

Bale has failed to recover his best from since returning to action from a serious ankle injury which kept him on the sideline for three months.

Celta Vigo's 2-1 win in the Copa del Rey in January gave Madrid it's only loss in 23 games at the Santiago Bernabeu this season, where Zinedine Zidane's team has won 15 times and drawn five. I hope he can be with us [for the Clasico] but I cannot be sure.

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Madrid had most of its regular starters available for the loss to Celta in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, when it couldn't come back after conceding two goals on counterattacks in the second half.

Bale is also likely to sit out El Clasico on Sunday, when Barcelona meet Real in Madrid.

They beat Sporting Gijon 3-2 on Saturday but conceded two sloppy goals, needing a 90th-minute victor from Isco to help them keep title rivals Barcelona at arm's length.

Gareth Bale has admitted that the Champions League is "the competition" for Real Madrid this season, describing it as "the essence" of the club.

Madrid have entered a pivotal week in their season, hosting bitter rivals Barcelona - who they hold a three-point advantage over and have played one game fewer than - in what could prove to be La Liga's title decider on Sunday.

Isco stood out with two goals including a last-gasp victor in Saturday's game, but he has been used sparingly in Europe this season, getting just 77 minutes in total across Madrid's nine Champions League games to date. I have the decision made, but I will not tell you our plans, I'm sorry. Bayern will play a great game, we know that.

Isco produced a virtuoso display in Gijon, his last-minute victor the second of two brilliant goals.

"It will be very hard in Madrid but we still have confidence. We have to be ready, focused and work on what we have to do".

"It could be Isco, it could be any of them". It is a plus for Bayern, but I am not concerned about that, they have good players in every position.

  • Julie Sanders