Gareth Bale’s flag-gate moment that enraged Real Madrid fans is “in the past” according to Zinedine Zidane, who looks set to turn to his Wales star for the first El Clasico of the season on Wednesday.
Bale was given a rough reception by some supporters when he returned to Spain following TV pictures of his celebrations last month after Wales had qualified for the Euro 2020 finals.
The shots of the captain laughing and joking behind a Wales flag with the words, “WALES. GOLF. MADRID…IN THAT ORDER” sparked calls in the Spanish media for the player to be moved on, but ahead of the club’s clash against Barcelona, Zidane said: “That’s in the past.
“Bale is with us, he’s training well and he’s one more player.
“He’s an important player and has always shown that. He’ll be ready tomorrow, just like they all will be. I’ve got no doubts about that.”
Bale is being tipped to start the match at the Nou Camp, even though he attracted more negative publicity this week when he was pictured taking part in the ‘bottle flip challenge’ while on the bench in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Valencia.
He played 35 minutes of that match but is expected to make Zidane’s starting line-up even though he has not scored for the club since September 1 because of injuries and limited opportunities.
Wednesday’s La Liga game was originally supposed to be played in October but it was postponed due to safety fears surrounding the violent protests in Catalonia.
Those concerns remain, and with more protests planned, it was confirmed that both teams will share the same hotel before the match – the Hotel Princesa Sofia close to the ground.
Zidane said at his pre-match press conference: “That’s something different for us. We’ve been told that we have to leave together and that’s what we’ll do.
WALES. GOLF. MADRID pic.twitter.com/o1tG7hZzaw
— ⚽ Sgorio (@sgorio) November 19, 2019
“There’s nothing else to explain. The important thing is that the game goes ahead.
“We’ve got to put all of our energy into performing on the pitch and have to believe that it’ll go ahead. Tomorrow we’ll have a game of football to play.”
Once the football gets under way it will be an intriguing battle as both sides are level on points at the top of La Liga.
Barcelona are ahead on goal difference, but Los Blancos are confident of continuing their good run of form and avenging a 5-1 loss in the Nou Camp last term.
“We go into the game in good shape,” Zidane added. “We’ve been playing well for some time now and have been achieving results in all departments, both mentally and in footballing terms.
“We’re enjoying a good spell. We’re all focused on tomorrow night’s game. In games like this you’ve got to produce your best throughout the 90 minutes. I hope that it’s a great game.
“It’s one to enjoy, regardless of what happens. We start the game with 11 v 11 and know what we’re up against: a very good side, who has shown that they’re just that for some time now.
“We know that they’ve got (Lionel) Messi, but we too have our own weapons.
“I want to see a good game of football against a Barcelona side who’re performing well. We know what the game’s going to be like and the result isn’t the important thing, the important thing is that we perform for the 90 minutes, which is how we’ll enjoy ourselves.”