MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said on Friday there is no issue between him and Gareth Bale after he left the Welsh forward out of the starting line-up for both of his side’s Champions League last-16 games against Paris St Germain.
Bale’s last two seasons with Spain have been blighted by injuries and while previously the club’s record signing was seen as undroppable, his presence in the Madrid starting line-up is no longer guaranteed, especially for the biggest games.
“It’s not a problem. He knows where he is. He’s an important player and there are other players in the team that are also important,” Zidane told a news conference ahead of his side’s Liga game away to Eibar on Saturday.
Bale came on as a substitute in both games against PSG. But his negative body language has been heavily scrutinised by the Spanish press, who have pointed out he was yawning while on the bench in the first leg and did not participate in the team’s celebrations on the pitch after the 3-1 win.
Bale struck an eight Liga goal of the season by opening the scoring in Real’s 3-1 win over Getafe on Saturday, though his half-hearted celebration was also seen as a sign of his discontent at being dropped from the starting 11.
Zidane played down any talk of a stand-off between him and Bale, saying the 100-million-euro forward understands the intense competition for places on the 12-time European champions.
“He doesn’t need to do anything else. He’s at a team where there are many players and many games,” added the French coach.
“He came onto the pitch (in Paris). I have nothing against him. He’s fundamental for us and I’m going to count on him until the end of the season. I have to pick a team every three days and that’s what I do.”
Real are third in the Liga standings, trailing Liga leaders Barcelona by a remarkable 15 points in the standings and seven behind city rivals Atletico.
(This version of the story has been repeated to change the slug to match TV output, no change in text.)
Reporting by Richard Martin; editing by Mark Heinrich