Why Gareth Bale missed Real Madrid’s return to the Bernabeu

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale missed the club’s first home game at the Bernabeu for 18 months as a result of a hamstring injury sustained during training.

Real stopped playing games at the Bernabeu in March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic gripped Europe and instead moved their home fixtures to the smaller Alfredo Di Stefano stadium located within their training complex at Valdebebas.

But with restrictions now easing and fans allowed to return to games in limited numbers in Spain, Los Blancos are back at the Bernabeu for Sunday night’s La Liga clash against Celta Vigo.

But Bale, who has started all three of Real’s league matches so far this season since returning from a loan spell at former club Tottenham, will miss out.

Carlo Ancelotti’s squad trained on the Bernabeu pitch on Saturday, with AS reporting that Bale felt ‘some discomfort’ in his right hamstring. Club medical staff are waiting for results on tests to understand the severity of the problem, but Bale will be missing for at least Celta’s visit.

Bale’s career at Real looked to be over when he was frozen out by Zinedine Zidane in the closing stages of the 2019/20 season. He moved back to the Premier League on loan to ensure he would be match fit for Wales at Euro 2020, but has been given a reprieve in Madrid by the returning Ancelotti.

The Italian coach arrived in the Spanish capital at the same time as Bale in the summer of 2013 and together they won the Champions League in their first season.

Ancelotti has primarily favoured a front three of Bale, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior so far this season, although Eden Hazard also started instead of the latter in the 3-3 draw with Levante.

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