Gareth Bale out of Espanyol tie
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Gareth Bale will miss Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey quarterfinal second leg at home to Espanyol on Tuesday due to a thigh problem, Los Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed.
Bale, 24, was kicked in the groin by visiting defender Jeison Murillo after only eight minutes into Saturday’s routine 2-0 La Liga win over Granada at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
The Wales international struggled with the injury for the remainder of the half, and was substituted at the break after completing just 12 passes and giving away possession 13 times.
The winger was still unable to take part in training with his teammates on Monday morning, and Ancelotti confirmed at his news conference afterwards that Jese Rodriguez will start instead against Espanyol, while also playing down the seriousness of the injury.
“[Bale] has no problem with his ‘genitals’,” Ancelotti said. “He is not comfortable with his left leg. He got a bang there, and is not fully recovered. He tried to train but he had some discomfort so we preferred to let him rest. He will not play tomorrow, he will train so as to be ready for Sunday. Jese will play from the start.”
Madrid won last week’s first leg 1-0 at Espanyol’s Estadio Cornella-El Prat, with Karim Benzema’s header putting them in control of the tie.
Ancelotti said he would likely make a few other changes for the return game -- Madrid’s eighth in 22 days -- but would not be holding back any particular players ahead of Sunday’s La Liga fixture at in-form Athletic Bilbao.
“There could be some changes, but just to avoid risks as some players have not recovered fully [from Saturday’s game] and could rest,” he said. “I will put out the best team. It is true we have a small advantage, but the tie is still open. I am just thinking about tomorrow’s game at the moment, and putting out a team in good physical condition, who can play with intensity. We then have the time to prepare for Sunday’s game.”
Madrid kept a record seventh consecutive clean sheet against Granada, but Ancelotti said his defence would need to be careful as Espanyol had shown their attacking potential during the 2-2 draw at Valencia on Saturday.
“Espanyol played very well against Valencia,” he said. “They showed ambition and confidence, with danger up front with Sergio Garcia and Jhon Cordoba. We must be very careful against them.”