MADRID (Sporting Alert) — After missing the first group game at Anfield due to an injury, Gareth Bale is fit again and will play for Real Madrid against Liverpool in the Champions League Group B game at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.
Bale returned to training this week after recovering from the hamstring injury that forced him to miss the last five games, including the 3-0 win at Anfield last month.
The Wales speedy forward will lineup alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodríguez in the Real Madrid attack and his manager Carlo Ancelotti has revealed that he’s “ready to play.”
But Ancelotti will decide on Tuesday if he will start the former Tottenham star or bring him off the bench.
“Gareth Bale is ready to play and is back from injury,” Ancelotti added. “I don’t know if he will play from the off or on the bench.”
Meanwhile, Ancelotti insists forward Ronaldo will be fully focused on playing for the team, despite being one goal away from equalling ex-Real Madrid hero Raul’s Champions League goal record tally of 71.
“Cristiano is a team player – he’s focused on the team, not on breaking records,” his manager said on www.uefa.com.
“It’s difficult to find new words for Cristiano. He’s fantastic.
“He is working hard for himself and the side, just like other players. I don’t think he’s thinking about the record.
“He has time – it’s not his last game. He is focused on playing for the team.”
Liverpool head into the contest sitting third in the group and need a win to keep their chances of qualifying for the knock-off round alive.
Brendan Rodgers’ side is not in the best of form at the moment, but the Reds boss is confident his players will get it together.
“It’s a big week,” he noted. “We’re coming off the back of a disappointing result, but our confidence is high going into every game.
“We’re looking forward to the game – it’s an opportunity, not a threat. We’re in the hunt to qualify, it’s in our hands.”
Real Madrid head into the game as the overwhelming favourites, but Rodgers isn’t all that concerned.
“We will respect our opponents – arguably the best side in the world at the moment – but we are also a quality outfit,” he added.
Another English Premier League side in action on Tuesday night is Arsenal, who will face Anderlecht in Group D at Emirates Stadium, and manager Arsène Wenger is targeting an early knock-out round slot.
“We have an opportunity [to qualify on matchday four] maybe, because it depends on the result in the other game, but of course we play at home and we have an opportunity to win the game and we want to take this opportunity.
“We are on a good run and want to take advantage of that.”
However, the Gunners boss is not getting too carried away, especially after the last meeting, which the EPL side needed two late goals to take the victory.
“We respect [Anderlecht] because they gave us a tough game,” Wenger said. “We had a little bit of a miraculous win because we needed to go until the last minute – but that was also our quality in this game.
“We are warned, we have learnt a lot from the first game, and now at home we want to win again.”
Arsenal have six points from their three games and sit three points behind group leaders Dortmund, who will qualify for the next round with a victory over last place Galatasaray.
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Zenit v Leverkusen
Malmö v Atlético
Juventus v Olympiacos
Basel v Ludogorets
Real Madrid v Liverpool
Benfica v Monaco
Arsenal v Anderlecht
Dortmund v Galatasaray