Zinedine Zidane has assured that Real Madrid will wait “at least four months” for Gareth Bale to regain his best form.
Bale struggled for form and fitness last season but is set to start at Real Sociedad on Sunday as a lone striker, in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
“We know that we’ll be facing a very good team,” the Coach said at a Press conference.
“We made a very good start to the season. It doesn’t change anything for us, we’ll try to had a good game and win.
“Illarramendi? There’s a lot of pressure here, but Illarra did well. More could’ve been expected of him, but he’s now at ease and it can be seen when he’s on the pitch.
“Every change is different, but he didn’t do badly here and now he’s doing phenomenally.
“Seven points behind Barca? It’s an important game, we’ve drawn twice at home. We’ve dropped four points and we’re playing at the home of the joint-leaders, but we know how important this game is.
“We won’t change anything, even if one game is more important than another. It’s just the next game, there’s three points up for grabs and, as ever, we’ll try to win.
“No Kroos or Vallejo? I can’t count on them, when you don’t train the day before a game, you can’t play.
“That’s what’s happened with Jesus and Toni, they have knocks and we won’t risk them.
“There are complicated times in a season and we’re having one now with injuries. I hope we don’t get too many of them.
“There’s nothing with Ceballos. He felt some discomfort on Thursday but has since trained normally.
“Small squad? I’m clear on who’s going to play tomorrow and I’m not going to say, I know how we’re going to play tomorrow.
“Injuries and suspensions are inevitable over the course of a season. [We need] patience. Tomorrow we’re going to play with a very good team and very good substitutes.
“Back without Ronaldo? We must think that we played our last game without him, we need him.
“When he’s not playing, we have a squad to do well, and we have players who can do well.
“I trust my players and those who are going to play, and we’re going to do well in our next game.
“Bale? He’s going to play his part. He’s feeling better with each day. He’s spent four months away from the team, and in order to return to his level, he needs at least four months to be like he was before.
“Still, it doesn’t mean that he has to be the leader if Cristiano or Karim aren’t there. There are other important players.
“We’re a team. One day it’s Cristiano and Isco another. A player makes the difference each time with his goals and moves, but the difference we make as a group is more than each player.
“Pressure on Bale? He can live with it. I think his price puts the pressure on him. It’s always going to be discussed.
“When they bought me, it was the same. I found it tough at first but but then [overcame it] little by little.
“What interests me is the motivation of the player, what the player wants. Everything else must be calm, as I am.
“We’ll wait for the best version of Gareth and I have no doubt that he’ll do well.
“You need a bit of patience, but he’s used to the pressure. It doesn’t weigh on him. We can’t control the outside, only what we do in the field.
“If he scores two goals, everyone will be happy and so the dynamics of what everyone thinks about Gareth will change.
“Each thing takes time and needs time. Only that. The [right] dynamic for a player is to train normally, and that’s what he is doing.
“We need and want him to do more on the pitch, and so does he. Still, we’re calm because he’ll do that soon.
“Ceballos? He will be with us, with the group. I tell all my players that they have to be patient, it’s the most important thing.
“Everyone will have opportunities to play, and I don’t think we’ve done too badly so far. Dani’s ready to play.
“Things take time, but he’s training well and he’s feeling good with the group. When he has the chance to play, he’ll do well.”
Real Sociedad: Rulli; Odriozola, Aritz, Llorente, De la Bella; Prieto, Illarramendi, Zurutuza, Januzaj; Juanmi, Willian Jose
Injuries/suspensions: Raul Navas, Inigo, Oyarzabal, Guridi (I)
Villarreal: Keylor; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Theo; Modric, Casemiro; Vazquez, Asensio, Isco; Bale
Injuries/suspensions: Benzema, Kovacic, Kroos, Vallejo (I) Ronaldo, Marcelo (S)
Referee: Iglesias VIllanueva
Form guide: La Real (W W W – -) Madrid (D D W – -)
Previous meeting: Madrid 3-0 La Real
Venue: Anoeta (Real Sociedad)
Kick-off time: 19:45 BST/20:45 local time