International

Madrid's patience running thin

2015-11-20 10:58
Gareth Bale (AFP)

Madrid - Real Madrid head into Saturday's blockbuster clash with Barcelona on the verge of crisis and in need of the world's two most expensive players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, to prove their worth.

Madrid trail Barcelona by three points at the top of La Liga as their "Galacticos" have failed to fire, while Barca have hardly skipped a beat despite losing four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi to injury for the past two months.

When Madrid president Florentino Perez added Bale to a star-studded squad over two years ago, the Welshman and Ronaldo were supposed to form an unstoppable partnership.

Yet, since scoring in the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals in his debut season, Bale has endured a frustrating 18 months due to injuries, a lack of form and even Madrid's own demanding support turning on him.

When Rafael Benitez was appointed to replace the sacked Carlo Ancelotti amid much uproar from Madrid's players and fans in June, he was given one specific task - to get the best out of Bale.

Yet, despite a promising start to the campaign in a new central role, a persistent calf injury has restricted Bale to just seven appearances in Madrid's 15 games this season.

Moreover, Benitez's men have tended to be better off without Bale, winning six and drawing twice in the games he didn't feature compared to four wins, two draws and a defeat when he has.

Bale still has credit in the bank with Perez and, by proxy, Benitez. However, he was consistently booed by Madrid's fans towards the end of last season and is likely to endure similar treatment on Saturday if he doesn't produce his best display in quite some time.

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