Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that Gareth Bale will almost certainly make his debut for Real Madrid tomorrow against Villarreal.
The Wales international is expected to start on the bench at El Madrigal, but Yellow Submarine Coach Marcelino has claimed that Madrid were already great without Bale.
“Bale has arrived without having had a regular preseason, but his physical condition is not bad,” affirmed Ancelotti to reporters after Friday morning’s workout.
“He is travelling [with the squad] and is going to play. I have to decide whether it will be from the beginning or in the second half.
“He has no injury concerns, he has ambition and is very motivated.
“He has arrived here with great enthusiasm. He is happy to be in the team that he wanted to be in. He is a humble player who likes to be with his teammates.
“His price? You pay what the market dictates. I’m certain that there have been teams that have offered more money to Tottenham, but the player has decided to come here.
“Where will Bale play? He can play from the right wing. He and Cristiano Ronaldo are two great players that I am sure together will improve the team.”
Ancelotti proceeded to run through other members of his team, several of whom have had injury concerns during the international break.
“It is not easy to prepare for a game without 17 internationals and against a Villarreal who have great enthusiasm and has won all three of their games.
“It will be difficult, if we are not ready…this is an important time because the Champions League is also beginning and we need all of the players to be mentally prepared.
“We had problems with the national teams. Four were injured. Isco has had an issue with his ankle but he has recovered well, has trained for the last two days and will play tomorrow.
“Marcelo, Coentrao and Arbeloa have not recovered. We need better communication to avoid injury. In the last international break Cheryshev returned injured, now it is Marcelo, Coentrao and Arbeloa.
“It is normal to have muscle problems because Coentrao has not had a full preseason. It is normal to have him injured. Nacho will play left-back.”
Asier Illarramendi has been back in full training following an injury-hit preseason and was seen earlier this week as in contention to play on Saturday too.
“Illarramendi has worked very well, he is ready and he will also play against Villarreal. He will do so from the beginning of the match.”
Karim Benzema remains under scrutiny both for club and country.
“Benzema is doing well. he has scored two goals and provided some assists. He also has competition for his place from Morata and Jese. For this he will be more motivated.
“I am very happy with Karim. He is not Modric nor Di Maria. He is different, like all the attackers.”
Focus in the opening weeks of the season has also been on Ancelotti’s decision to persist with Diego Lopez ahead of Iker Casillas between the sticks. Today he was asked if he would rotate between the two depending on the competition.
“Yes, maybe. This Tuesday, Casillas in Istanbul in the Champions League, so the issue will be calmer.”
“Bale is one more difficulty, within a team of great players. But it is too early to say what he can bring to the team today,” Marcelino told reporters.
“He arrives from a different league, a different team and a very demanding league. We know his quality, but it is difficult to adjust quickly.
“What is clear is that he is a very good player, who will provide more speed and more movement and that in a very dangerous team, will make them stronger.
“Playing against Madrid is different, especially with the level of expectation and everything that that creates.
“But at a sporting level it is one more game, because we work always to try to win and we will stand up to face the opponent to our best and try to win no matter who the opponent.
“We know it is more difficult for this opponent and their quality, but we will still try to win.
“We will not change very much, we can change little things or small details so that the opponent does not cause us as much danger, but it is difficult to achieve this and to make the most of our strengths. We will not make big changes.
“Madrid have many resources, but one of their great virtues is to counter-attack, with quality players who are very quick and have speed.
“It is very difficult to stop them and they have won a lot of games through it, but we will work to minimise that danger. We are going to try to finish our moves and prevent counter-attacks, although it will be difficult.
“We will also try to create danger, we will try to cause them some problems, we won’t spend the entire game defending and being obsessed with them.
“We have our weapons and we’ll go out and compete with them, even as we play against a team like Madrid, featuring some of the best players who can make the difference.
“But there is hope and we aspire to cause them problems, we will try.”