Gareth Bale Won't Play Left-Back after Marcelo's Injury
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has shot down any suggestions Gareth Bale could return to play at left-back after Brazilian international Marcelo was ruled out for a couple of weeks by a hamstring injury.
Marcelo will miss both legs of Real's Champions League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund with the first leg taking place at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night. Bale began his career at left-back at Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur before twice becoming Premier League Player of the Year from a more advanced position and Ancelotti insisted that the Welshman would maintain his place on the right side of Real's attack.
"Bale at full-back is not an option for us," he told his pre-match press conference ahead of Dortmund's visit to the Spanish capital. "We have a problem with Marcelo, but we can cover his absence well with (Fabio) Coentrao. He is fresh and will replace him without any problems."
Bale was on target twice in Real's 5-0 win over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday as Ancelotti's men bounced back from consecutive defeats to Barcelona and Sevilla. That double took the former Tottenham man's tally for the season to 16, but he has been criticized for his lack of impact in Real's biggest games. Ancelotti admitted that Bale can be inconsistent, but defended the player's attitude and claimed that was to be expected given the type of player he is and the position he plays in.
"I think it is true he is a little intermittent, but that is a characteristic of all forwards and especially very quick players. Players with that speed can't have a continuous influence likes other players with different characteristics like Xabi Alonso. His inconsistency is a physical characteristic of the player, like Cristiano (Ronaldo) or (Karim) Benzema. It is not an attitude problem."
Real midfielder and Bale's former Tottenham teammate Luka Modric also believes the 24-year-old has made a fine contribution in his first season with Madrid. "I think he is doing very well. He is helping the team a lot and has scored a lot of goals and given many assists. He is a very important player for us. I don't think he has been very selfish, I think he has given more assists than anyone in La Liga which says it all."
Dortmund had the upper hand over Madrid in four meetings in total in last season's Champions League, but most notably in the semi-finals as they progressed 4-3 on aggregate. Robert Lewandowski scored all four of his side's goals in the first leg, but the Polish international will be missing at the Bernabeu due to suspension, whilst Dortmund are without five other key first-team players through injury.
The speedy Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang is expected to replace Lewandowski up front and Ancelotti is wary of Dortmund's threat on the counter-attack.
"Borussia Dortmund are very dangerous on the counter-attack and it is clear we have to play an offensive match because we need a positive result, but we need to be very careful on them on the break. Aubemayang is a player I know well because we was in the Milan youth team when I was there. He is having a fantastic career. The absence of Lewandowski is important, but I think they can cover that up well with Aubemayang."