Friday, January 21, 2022

Bale returns to start El Clasico

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Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale warms up before the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF vs FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on April 23, 2017. OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP

Gareth Bale was thrown straight back into the Real Madrid starting line-up for Sunday’s El Clasico against Barcelona after recovering from an ankle injury.

The Welshman missed Madrid’s last two outings against Sporting Gijón and Bayern Munich.

However, despite only returning to training on Thursday, Bale is the only change in the Madrid side that beat Bayern 4-2 after extra time in midweek. Isco is the man to drop out.

Paco Alcacer takes the place of the suspended Neymar for Barcelona.

The Catalans finally dropped their case for the Brazilian to be cleared to play on Sunday morning after a dispute with Spain’s Court of Arbitration for Sport over the status of an appeal against his three-match ban for being sent-off at Malaga two weeks ago.

Otherwise, Barca boss Luis Enrique also goes with the same side that crashed out of the Champions League on Wednesday after a 0-0 draw with Juventus.

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Nacho, Sergio Ramos (captain), Marcelo; Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

Coach: Zinedine Zidane (FRA)

Barcelona (4-3-3): Marc Andre ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Andres Iniesta (captain); Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Paco Alcacer

Coach: Luis Enrique (ESP)

Referee: Alejandro Jose Hernandez

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