Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has backed Gareth Bale to put his injury problems firmly behind him and emulate the consistency of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Bale headed home a late winner against Real Sociedad to keep Madrid’s league title hopes alive, just a week after he scored twice to seal a 3-2 comeback win over Rayo Vallecano.
Ronaldo, who was forced to miss the trip to Anoeta with a hamstring problem, had played every minute in La Liga this season prior to this weekend, while Bale’s campaign has been blighted by calf and back problems.
But Zidane is confident the Wales forward can match Ronaldo’s consistent fitness levels and was delighted to see him make the difference once more.
“I’m happy for him. He’s had a lot of injury problems. When I see him play for 90 minutes I’m very happy,” Zidane said.
“He had problems but he can do what Cristiano does and play a lot of games. When you see an important player score a good goal it bodes well for [the Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester City on] Wednesday.
“He could have scored in the first half, you have to suffer and fight and that’s what the boys did. They were a very difficult opponent, I’m happy with the effort and the result.”
Madrid were also without Karim Benzema on Saturday, with the France international nursing a hamstring complaint, meaning Bale started alongside Lucas Vazquez and Borja Mayoral in attack.
With Toni Kroos also given a rest and Marcelo also missing, Zidane was thrilled to see the strength of his squad prove enough to keep their title ambitions afloat.
“It means everyone is very important. It’s important to know that you have 20 or 21 who can always play. It’s always difficult when you play every three days.
“We’ve done our job and that’s the important thing. We’ll see what the others do. The important thing for us is the victory – without victories, it becomes more difficult. Now we have to rest well and think about Wednesday.”
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