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Bale in Zidane’s plans for return against Roma

By Reuters - Mar 07,2016 - Last updated at Mar 07,2016

Gareth Bale looks set to reinforce Real Madrid against AS Roma in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at the Bernabeu on Tuesday (1945 GMT) after a promising return from injury at the weekend.

Real should also have Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Marcelo back after they missed Saturday’s 7-1 rout of Celta Vigo when Cristiano Ronaldo scored four goals.

Bale, who has scored an average of nearly a goal a match in La Liga this season, should help Real keep the Roma defence busy as the Italian side try to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the first leg in Rome two weeks ago.

The Welsh forward tore a calf muscle against Sporting Gijon on January 17 and had a setback during his recovery last month.

However, Bale had scored 11 goals in eight matches in La Liga prior to that injury and showed he could comfortably pick up where he left off.

He struck 14 minutes after coming on as a substitute on Saturday and now has a tally of 14 goals in his 16 league matches.

“Bale looked good, he was happy to play after so long,” Zidane said. “We’ll see... for the match against Roma but I think he’s ready.”

Bale told the club website, “I’m really happy after several difficult weeks. It’s great to win this way, come back, play and score.”

Kroos missed Saturday’s game through illness, while Marcelo (muscle fatigue) and Modric (ankle) have been out for two league matches.

Striker Karim Benzema remains doubtful with a thigh muscle problem and teenager Borja Mayoral could again stand in for him.

Zidane will want his most experienced players, though, to ensure Real stay in the hunt for an “Undecima” (11th) European Cup as they target the only major trophy they can still realistically win this season.

Roma also boosted their confidence for the task in Madrid with a 4-1 home win over Fiorentina in a key clash for third place in Serie A on Friday, including two goals from their quick winger Mohamed Salah, who played on loan at Fiore last season.

But coach Luciano Spaletti has injury worries. He did not include central defender Antonio Rudiger in a 21-man squad for the trip, while holding midfielder Radja Nainggolan is doubtful with a groin problem and Daniele De Rossi is still unavailable.

Fuelled up

VfL Wolfsburg are confident their recent good form can carry them past Gent on Tuesday and into the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.

The Wolves, who won the first leg 3-2 in Belgium after leading 3-0 and conceding two late goals, are fuelled up on confidence following a 2-1 victory over in-form Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday.

It was their second league win in five days and moved them back into seventh place in the table.

“When you win against such a top team like Gladbach then you are allowed to be confident,” said Wolfsburg sporting director, Klaus Allofs. “We are back in the game.”

Wolfsburg, last season’s runners-up and German Cup winners, seem to have recovered from their slump earlier in the campaign in time for the biggest European game in the club’s history.

“We know that the tie is not finished yet,” Allofs said. “But if we play like we did against Gladbach then we will advance into the next round.”

Julian Draxler, who scored against both Gent and Gladbach, limped off on Saturday midway through the second half but is expected to be fit for Tuesday.

Max Kruse, who also scored in both those games, picked up a knock but will be ready to face Gent, said coach Dieter Hecking.

“Games like the one on Tuesday should heal every wound,” Hecking said.

Gent slipped two points behind Belgian league leaders Club Bruges after a 1-1 draw with second-bottom OH Leuven on Friday. Gent failed to find a winner despite their opponents having their goalkeeper sent off.

Coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck is still sweating over the fitness of striker Laurent Depoitre, who missed Friday’s match and Saturday training with a bad back and strained abdomen.

Serbian centre back Stefan Mitrovic, whose foot injury has kept him out for two weeks, is also a doubt.

Yet, even if they are depleted, the Belgians believe they have a chance in Germany.

“When we were 0-3 down [against Wolfsburg], everyone thought this away tie would be just a city outing for us,” goalkeeper Matz Sels said when asked if he was optimistic about the return leg.

“But thanks to the two goals we scored we have made it a contest. We certainly shouldn’t throw it open at the start because it would be deadly for us to concede a goal.”


“Even if we only go 1-0 up in the 80th minute it would 10 minutes of jitters for Wolfsburg and then you never know if you have another good crack with the ball,” he said.

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