Bale 'delivered' for Ancelotti as Real Madrid's forgotten man resumes lead role

By Sports Desk February 12, 2022

Carlo Ancelotti is considering throwing Gareth Bale into the Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain after the forward showed he still has plenty to offer Real Madrid.

Bale made a vexingly quiet start to Saturday's LaLiga game at Villarreal before springing to life and proving the biggest goal threat on the pitch.

The Wales international had a game-high six shots and was denied by three smart saves from Geronimo Rulli in the goalless draw, Madrid's fifth successive away draw at Villarreal. From one of those opportunities, goalkeeper Rulli flicked a Bale strike against the crossbar.

Considering it was Bale's first game since August for Madrid, after an injury lay-off, what started off inauspiciously turned into a statement performance.

Now Bale could be thrust into the same role, as a central striker, when Madrid travel to take on PSG at Parc des Princes in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday.

There might be a chance of Karim Benzema being back from his hamstring injury for that game, while Luka Jovic is another option after he almost grabbed a last-gasp winner against Villarreal, hitting the bar with a chip after replacing Bale.

Ancelotti is being non-committal for now, but Bale is in the conversation, and that is a tribute to how well he performed in this comeback game.

Asked if Bale might lead the attack in Paris, Ancelotti said: "I don't know, we have to wait and see what happens in the next few days. Hopefully we can get everyone back.

"He has had the opportunity and he has delivered. He could have scored, he was dangerous. [He has done] everything we ask of him."

Bale had only nine touches in the first half and 19 in all, before he was substituted in the 74th minute. When he got on the ball, however, there was a reassuring quality about his play.

"He had a major injury in September, when he had already started playing," said Ancelotti, who took charge of his 100th LaLiga game as Madrid boss.

"Then it was difficult for him to pick up the pace to avoid problems. Today he has shown that he can be with us, that he is committed."

Madrid have scored just once in their past three games, which is a worry heading into the tussle with PSG, who won 1-0 against Rennes on Friday.

"We need more effectiveness," said Ancelotti, "but I was more worried about the team in the first half when they were not very committed.

"It's clear what we were missing. In the first half, we had a low block, almost too low. We weren't aggressive enough in duels and one-on-one situations.

"That's why Villarreal had more control. In the second half, we were more aggressive without the ball. That was key."

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