Gareth Bale and his wife Emma have donated £500,000 to a hospital in his hometown of Cardiff to help the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cardiff and Vale Health Charity made the announcement on Wednesday, revealing the couple dedicated funds to the University Hospital of Wales, where the Wales captain was born.

It has been requested the money be put towards "the response to COVID-19", with the focus of this particular charity being on "providing those extras for staff and patients that normal NHS funding doesn’t provide."

In a pre-recorded video, Real Madrid forward Bale said: "Hi everyone, I just wanted to record this video to thank everyone in the NHS for all their hard work and sacrifice during this COVID-19 crisis.

"The University Hospital of Wales holds a special place in my heart – it was where I was born, and it has provided great support to my friends, family and the wider community, so me and my family would like to show our support.

Real Madrid star Gareth Bale still considers himself a Tottenham fan and was disappointed by their Champions League final heartbreak last June.

Wales forward Bale departed Spurs for the Santiago Bernabeu in a reported £86million deal in September 2013 and has gone on to win the Champions League four times, as well as a LaLiga title and Copa del Rey medal.

Bale has endured a tricky relationship with head coach Zinedine Zidane, though, and has often been linked with an exit, while a move to Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning collapsed in July.

A return to Tottenham has also been mooted and Bale clearly still has love for the club he played for between 2007 and 2013, describing his sadness at their defeat to Liverpool in last season's European showpiece.

"Everybody loves tuning in to watch the Champions League final, and obviously Tottenham were there so I had a very keen interest, I was hoping they'd get to the final like they did," Bale told BT Sport. 

"They had some great matches on the way, obviously in the semi-final [against Ajax].

"For us Tottenham fans it was a bit disappointing in the final, but you have to look at the bigger picture. They did great to get there and gave a good account of themselves."

Bale has several Champions League moments to savour, including winning the trophy in Cardiff and scoring a wonderful overhead kick against Liverpool in the 2018 final in Kiev.

For Bale, though, scoring and beating Atletico Madrid to clinch La Decima six years ago remains his favourite.

"They all have their own special moments. The first one is always so special because I'd never won a trophy before and you don't know the experience, excitement and euphoria you get from lifting the trophy," he added.

"Winning in my home city was an incredible moment for me personally because not many people get to do that.

"Then the last final [against Liverpool] I played in I scored that goal and for it to be the winning goal was also special.

"It's difficult to pick one but in terms of the overall experience I'd go for the first one because it was the first final and I didn't expect what was coming, the nerves of it and how we won it in the last minute.

"The celebrations were something I'd never experienced before. Everything was just new, so it was really exciting and it made it so special."

Nearly all of European football remains suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic and Bale opened up on the tough lockdown measures in Spain.

He said: "It's quite a strict lockdown, we can't go out at all, can't go out for a walk or exercise or anything. It's very strict, but I guess we're all doing it for the greater good.

"Everyone wants to play football, but the most important thing is everyone stays safe, we don't come back too early and we make sure everything is done safely so we avoid the second wave of this virus.

"The difficult thing, you hear everyone saying they want to get the season finished and do this and that. But you need to look at the bigger picture, the most important thing is everyone's health.

"With football, everyone misses it and wants to play, everyone wants to watch.

"But the bigger picture is there will be many more seasons of football, Champions Leagues, leagues and cups, the important thing is getting this right now, if we can get that right, it'll make football last much longer in the future and we won't have a problem like this in the future."

Chelsea are reportedly in talks with Barcelona over Philippe Coutinho, while Real Madrid are preparing a "grand revolution".

Coutinho is expected to leave Barca permanently this close season, with the playmaker on loan at Bayern Munich in 2019-20.

With a Premier League return touted for the former Liverpool star, it seems Coutinho is close to getting back to England.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA START COUTINHO TALKS

Chelsea have already started talks with Barcelona over Coutinho, according to Sport.

Bayern will reportedly not use their €120million purchase option on the Brazil international, opening the door for Chelsea.

Barcelona have set a starting price of €90m (£79.5m) for Coutinho, who joined the club from Liverpool for a reported initial fee of €118.8m (£105m).

 

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid are preparing for a "grand revolution". The cover of Sport says president Florentino Perez is getting ready to make changes at Los Blancos, with Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and 14 players out on loan the main problems.

- With Newcastle United reportedly on the verge of a takeover, the Premier League side are being linked with a new manager. The Mirror says former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is among the top targets for the club once the sale is complete.

- Ashley Young has impressed at Inter. The Guardian claims Young, 34, will get a one-year extension at the Serie A club.

- Despite only arriving at Manchester United in June 2018, Diogo Dalot could be set for an exit. The Sun says United are willing to listen to offers for the 21-year-old Portuguese full-back.

- It seems Roma have received some good news. Corriere dello Sport reports Manchester United's Chris Smalling and Arsenal's Henrikh Mkhitaryan, will remain at the club on loan until the end of the season, even if it goes beyond June 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

- Cengiz Under could be on his way out of Roma. CalcioMercato reports Everton, Milan and Napoli are interested in Under and Roma may be willing to lower their initial demand of €40m.

After months and months of speculation, Jadon Sancho's future could be resolved.

The 20-year-old attacker has been tipped to return to England, having left Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

And City's neighbours are reportedly set to snap up the in-demand sensation.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED THINK THEY'VE WON SANCHO RACE

Borussia Dortmund's Sancho to Manchester United is a done deal, according to The Sun.

England star Sancho has been heavily linked to United, as well as Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid following his exploits for Dortmund.

However, United believe they have won the race for Sancho after months of secret talks, with just an agreement of a fee with Dortmund remaining.

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Paris Saint-Germain are ready to offer Neymar a salary worth €38million if he stays at the Ligue 1 champions amid links to former club Barcelona.

Sandro Tonali is a real target for Milan, claims Calciomercato. The Brescia star has attracted interest from Serie A champions Juventus, Inter, PSG, Manchester City and others. But Tonali is Milan's big transfer goal as the Rossoneri board tries to rebuild around the 19-year-old.

Mauro Icardi to Napoli and Arkadiusz Milik to Juve? FCInterNews.it says Napoli are back in the hunt to sign Icardi, who is on loan at PSG from Inter. The Argentina forward has been heavily linked to Juve but he could join Napoli if Milik moves to Turin. The front page of Tuttosport also claims Federico Bernardeschi leaving Juve for Napoli could be the key in Milik's future.

Inter are interested in signing RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner if Lautaro Martinez swaps the Nerazzurri for Barca, reports Calciomercato. Liverpool and Bayern Munich have also been linked to Werner.

- AS Diario says Real Madrid are ready to sell Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez. Colombian midfielder James has been linked to United and Juve. Madrid are also prepared to part with Lucas Vazquez, Mariano Diaz, Alvaro Odriozola and Nacho Fernandez.

Arsenal and United have set their sights on Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele, according to Sport. Dembele has struggled for form and fitness at Camp Nou and the Frenchman has reportedly asked Anthony Martial about playing for United.

Barcelona are prepared to use Antoine Griezmann in a deal to land Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar, 28, has constantly been linked with a return to Camp Nou, but ended up staying at PSG during the last close season.

It seems Barcelona will pursue the Brazil international again and they may be prepared to offer Griezmann in a deal.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TO OFFER GRIEZMANN TO PSG IN NEYMAR DEAL

Despite it proving such an ordeal to sign Griezmann in the first place, Barca will try to use him as a makeweight in a deal to land Neymar, according to Sky Sports.

The report says the Spanish giants are prepared to let Griezmann go just one season after signing him from Atletico Madrid, as they reportedly also target Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

Barca will try to sell the forward elsewhere if PSG are not interested, the story claims, with the Frenchman underwhelming since his switch to Camp Nou.

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are apparently preparing for a battle with Germany. The Mirror reports Germany see Jurgen Klopp – contracted at Anfield until 2024 – as a successor to coach Joachim Low.

Manchester United remain interested in Erling Haaland. ESPN claims the Premier League club are again ready to compete for the forward's services with Real Madrid if the Norway international decides to leave Borussia Dortmund.

- Will Gareth Bale remain at Real Madrid? The Mirror suggests the Wales international is ready to fight for his place at the Santiago Bernabeu despite his differences with coach Zinedine Zidane.

Saul Niguez is apparently wanted in the Premier League. AS says Man United are willing to pay around £71million (€80m) for the Atletico midfielder, who has a release clause of £132.5m (€150m).

Barcelona may be prepared to sell players this close season, but Arthur will not be among them. Sport reports the Spanish champions see the midfielder as a key player. Meanwhile, it is also claimed Gent star Jonathan David has been offered to the Blaugrana.

Juventus have reportedly secured the futures of two players. Rai Sport understands Blaise Matuidi has extended his contract with Juve until 2021, while Marko Pjaca – who is on loan at Anderlecht – has agreed to a deal until 2023.

Real Madrid have seemingly set their sights on Eduardo Camavinga, and it may be one of several changes at the LaLiga club.

Camavinga, 17, has been linked to several European giants after impressing for Rennes.

The teenage midfielder is a target for Madrid, who could be set for sweeping changes in the close season.

 

TOP STORY – CAMAVINGA THE PREFERENCE FOR REAL MADRID

Camavinga is the preference for Real Madrid as it is likely to prove tough to land Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, according to Marca.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is also keen to avoid becoming too reliant on Casemiro, the report says.

Camavinga has made 25 Ligue 1 appearances for Rennes this season, including 24 starts.

ROUND-UP

- It may be just one of several changes at Real Madrid. AS reports there must be exits if players are to come in, with James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez and Mariano Diaz potentially leaving. The futures of Nacho Fernandez, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Brahim Diaz are also uncertain.

- Staying at Real Madrid and AS reports the coronavirus pandemic may impact what the club do with Martin Odegaard. The Norway international was expected to spend another season on loan at Real Sociedad but could return ahead of the next campaign as clubs become stricter with their finances.

- Diego Costa has scored just twice in 19 games for Atletico Madrid this season and could be set for a move. Sport reports Roma are interested in the 31-year-old forward.

- Achraf Hakimi appears likely to return to Real Madrid from his loan at Borussia Dortmund. However, the Mirror reports Chelsea have enquired about the defender.

- After impressing with Wolves in the Premier League, Raul Jimenez is attracting interest. Sport reports the Mexico forward could return to LaLiga, with Real Madrid and former club Atletico Madrid interested.

- Out of contract at the end of the season, Pedro is poised to leave Chelsea. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Lazio are interested in the attacker.

Gareth Bale is a player in need of some home comforts when Real Madrid face off against Barcelona in a crucial Clasico in LaLiga on Sunday.

The Wales forward has endured a frustrating barren run for Los Blancos at the Santiago Bernabeu and it has now been 12 calendar months since his last home goal.

Bale last celebrated a LaLiga goal in front of his home supporters in a 2-0 triumph over Celta Vigo on March 16, 2019 and it would certainly be a welcome time to end the wait against new table-toppers Barca.

But just how does Bale's record over the last year stack up against his fellow Madrid forwards? With the help of Opta data, we have taken a look.


BALE'S BARREN RUN PART OF WIDER ISSUE?

Madrid have faced questions over their goal-scoring abilities since selling Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus ahead of the 2018-19 season and the evidence suggests their forwards are struggling collectively to share the burden at home.

Since March 16 last year, Karim Benzema has done his part to pick up the slack with an impressive 18 in 20 Bernabeu appearances in LaLiga.

Beyond that, the reading is a little grim. Rodrygo Goes has an impressive six in 10 but the only other players with more than one are Isco (two in 13) and Mariano Diaz (two from two).

Bale has not scored in 10 outings, albeit only five of those were from the start, with Lucas Vazquez and Brahim Diaz also goalless from 12 and seven home appearances respectively.

Vinicius Junior (one in 14), Eden Hazard (one in nine), Luka Jovic (one in nine) and James Rodriguez (one in five) all have a solitary strike to their name.


ARE MADRID SHOT-SHY?

Bale's lack of goals is not for the want of trying. His 20 shots attempted at the Bernabeu are beaten only by Benzema (87) and Vinicius (26) during the time period in question.

Hazard (13), Rodrygo (13), Isco (11), Vazquez (10) and Jovic (10) all have significantly fewer shots, while James has 11 from his five appearances so has a similar ratio to Bale.

More worryingly, though, is the fact just three of Bale's attempts have been on target. Vinicius (14), Isco (seven), Rodrygo (seven) and Hazard (seven) have all worked visiting goalkeepers more, while Benzema is once again the standout performer with 43 efforts on target.

Mariano (four) has more shots on target, while Vazquez (three) and Brahim (three) tally the same as Bale. Jovic (two) and James (two) are the only two with fewer, though the latter has played in five fewer games.


STRUGGLING TO CREATE?

A lack of goals is not necessarily the only concern for Bale. He has just two LaLiga assists at the Bernabeu since his last home goal and created just five chances.

Hazard only has one assist but has created 17 opportunities, while Vinicius has three and 18 in the respective categories.

Vinicius is one of only two players with more assists than Bale, though. Benzema unsurprisingly leads the way on eight, Brahim also has two, while Vazquez, Rodrygo, Jovic and James all only have one.

In terms of chances created, Vinicius (18), Vazquez (17), Rodrygo (12), Isco (11), Brahim (eight) and James (eight) all have more than Bale. Benzema, who has played more than any other forward in this time, has 37.

Raheem Sterling and Aymeric Laporte have been named in Manchester City's initial squad for Wednesday's Champions League last-16 first leg with Real Madrid.

England international Sterling has missed City's last two games with a hamstring injury, while Laporte left the field before the hour mark in Saturday's 1-0 win against Leicester City.

However, both players have been included as part of the Premier League champions' 22-man travelling party for the clash at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Leroy Sane was thought to be in contention after returning to training last month, but the winger did not make the trip to the Spanish capital on Tuesday.

Madrid also named their 19-man squad on the eve of the match, with Gareth Bale returning to the fold after sitting out Saturday's 1-0 loss at Levante through illness.

Eden Hazard misses out on selection after sustaining a potentially season-ending ankle injury in the same match, but striker Luka Jovic is back involved.

Zinedine Zidane's men head into the game on a run of one win in their last four matches, while City have won back-to-back games.

Gareth Bale's move from Real Madrid to Jiangsu Suning fell through because Los Blancos asked for a transfer fee at the last moment, the Chinese Super League club's head coach has said.

Wales forward Bale appeared destined to depart the Santiago Bernabeu in July having reportedly agreed a deal that would have seen him earn £1million per week.

But Bale, who joined Madrid in August 2013, remained in the Spanish capital after talks broke down at the last minute.

Jiangsu coach Cosmin Olaroiu said Madrid had originally agreed to allow Bale to leave on a free transfer but changed their mind, making a deal unviable for the Chinese side.

"It was very close," Olaroiu told The National. 

"The club agreed with his agent, his agent was there. We agreed with Madrid and in the last month - I don't know what happened there, they lose some friendly games by a big score - Madrid changed their mind.

"First they said they would release him and we would have to pay his salary, then suddenly they said 'No, you have to pay for the transfer'.

"And paying the transfer and his salary was a little bit over the budget and so we looked for another player.

"But, actually, I know that it was done 90 per cent in the evening, and then in the morning everything changed. But Real Madrid, not us."

Bale has made 17 appearances in all competitions for Zinedine Zidane's men this term, scoring three goals, but was left out of the squad to face Levante on Saturday reportedly due to illness.

The 30-year-old has won LaLiga and Copa del Rey medals with Madrid, as well as four Champions Leagues and three Club World Cups.

Zinedine Zidane defended Gareth Bale's performance against Celta Vigo, yet the Wales forward has not been included in Real Madrid's squad for the trip to Levante.

Bale started and played 84 minutes on Sunday, as Madrid were held to a 2-2 home draw by Celta, who equalised late on through Santi Mina.

"I think Bale played a good game and we have to keep thinking that there's a long way to go and we have to think about what we all do on the pitch to improve it," Zidane said in the wake of the draw.

However, Bale will not get the chance to continue in Madrid's XI this week after he was left out of the squad for the clash with Levante.

The 30-year-old has reportedly been struggling with a stomach bug, which meant he was unable to train on Wednesday.

Striker Luka Jovic has also missed out – with the Serbia international reportedly suffering from the same issue – while Rodrygo and Nacho do not feature in the 19-man squad.

Eden Hazard, who made his comeback from injury against Celta, is included.

Madrid have been boosted by the return to non-contact training of Marco Asensio, who has missed the entirety of the season due to a knee ligament injury.

Zinedine Zidane moved to defend Marcelo and Gareth Bale after Real Madrid's "painful" 2-2 draw at home to Celta Vigo.

Marcelo was a surprise starter ahead of Ferland Mendy for Sunday's contest at Santiago Bernabeu where Santi Mina earned the visitors an 85th-minute equaliser after Toni Kroos' strike and a Sergio Ramos penalty had cancelled out Fedor Smolov's opener.

The Brazil full-back, a mainstay of Madrid's line-up for over a decade, has faced criticism at times this season, particularly over his performances defensively, but head coach Zidane had no issues with Marcelo's showing.

"I don't think he makes us weaker defensively, because he was good at the back, but you always bring out stats," Zidane said.

"I'm happy with everyone for how they play and when they play."

Bale was mainly ineffective having been selected to start in a front three alongside Karim Benzema and the returning Eden Hazard.

Zidane, though, said the focus is on how the team as a collective can improve after they missed the chance to win a sixth straight LaLiga match.

"I think Bale played a good game and we have to keep thinking that there's a long way to go and we have to think about what we all do on the pitch to improve it," Zidane added.

On how he felt after conceding the late equaliser, the Frenchman said: "Painful to be brutally honest. I thought the team gave a very big effort to try to win the game. 

"After taking the lead and five minutes towards the end conceding the draw, it's not very good. 

"But I'm very pleased with my team, it wasn't easy for us. A first half where we conceded a goal after six minutes and then they closed themselves at the back, very defensively solid.

"The gap in the first half, we were trying to cross the ball too much, but in the second half we did it much better."

One positive for Madrid was the return of Belgium forward Hazard, who has been absent since November with an ankle injury.

Zidane was encouraged by what he saw from the former Chelsea star.

"I'm very happy to have him back and with the 70 minutes he played," Zidane said. 

"I think we know the player he is, and after three months out it wouldn't be easy for him to come back in and play a great game, but I'm very happy with his game and to have him back."

Zinedine Zidane again reiterated there is no problem between himself and Gareth Bale after recalling the winger for Real Madrid's 4-1 win at Osasuna.

Madrid extended their lead at the top of LaLiga to six points ahead of Barcelona's trip to Real Betis as they prevailed in a feisty encounter at El Sadar.

Unai Garcia headed the hosts into a 14th-minute lead but Isco volleyed in his first league goal of the campaign and Sergio Ramos edged Madrid in front before the break.

Substitutes Lucas Vazquez and Luka Jovic added gloss to the scoreline late on, the former having replaced the recalled Bale 20 minutes from time.

The Wales star passed up a pair of half-chances before having a hand in Isco's equaliser and Zidane was impressed by his efforts without the ball, during what was at times a gruelling contest.

"He is an important player, he has shown it," Zidane told reporters afterwards.

"He has not played the last three games and has made 70 very good minutes defensively.

"Then, the problem is that they want us to have a problem with Gareth, but there is not one.

"There are many players, it’s not easy to manage all that. He’s a very important player, he’s always shown it and he’ll keep playing, like the others."

Asked again about Bale's performance, Zidane added: "He has done well. I am happy for his game, offensively and defensively he has given everything.

"He was a bit short physically at the end, so he has left the field. We know the player he is and that he is going to give a lot from now until the end of the season. Let's count on Gareth."

Jovic is another player who has not always found favour with his boss and the former Eintracht Frankfurt striker's fabulous left-footed finish marked only a second LaLiga goal, and his first since October.

"I'm glad for him, I needed him, he is a pure striker of whom you can say many things," Zidane said.

"He plays well, but if he does not score a goal he is not happy. He has to improve, but I'm glad for his goal. It will come in handy."

Eden Hazard was absent once more, with the Belgium playmaker running out of time to prove his fitness before the Champions League clash with Manchester City at the end of this month.

"It's a thing we do together," Zidane explained when discussing the management of Hazard's recovery from a fractured ankle.

"It wasn't the time today again and we'll see this week. He's going to need this week, it's going to be long. We're going to see him next week, I hope."

Isco's first LaLiga goal of the season helped Real Madrid to a battling 4-1 win at Osasuna on Sunday.

The hosts deservedly hit the front at a bristling El Sadar thanks to Unai Garcia's header, but Isco finished with aplomb in the 33rd minute.

Sergio Ramos' knack for vital goals came up trumps for Zinedine Zidane once more before the interval, and Madrid now lead Barcelona by six points at the summit.

Substitutes Lucas Vazquez and Luka Jovic made sure of that state of affairs before Quique Setien takes Barca to face his old employers Real Betis in the day's late kick-off.

Right-back Nacho Vidal fizzed a 20-yard shot narrowly wide inside the first minute to serve notice of Osasuna's intentions before Jose Arnaiz and Ruben Garcia raided down the right-hand side of Madrid's defence to go close.

It meant the 14th-minute opener was on the cards when it arrived – Unai Garcia stooping to head home Ruben Garcia's corner.

Madrid's most immediate route back into the match appeared to be Osasuna keeper Sergio Herrera, who twice darted from his goal and was indebted to last-ditch clearances from shots by Karim Benzema and Dani Carvajal.

Herrera was more conventionally placed but had no chance when Isco dispatched a looping ball on the volley after Gareth Bale's attempt was blocked.

Casemiro atoned for his poor marking on Osasuna's goal by heading Luka Modric's corner back across goal for Ramos to make it 2-1.

Unai Garcia got in the way of Benzema's goalbound 49th-minute effort from a Modric cutback, and Osasuna kept scrapping away – Casemiro turning Ruben Garcia's shot behind after Nacho Vidal ransacked Isco.

The playmaker was certainly more at home in the opposition half and a sharp low stop from Herrera kept out an Isco snapshot before Vazquez replaced Bale.

The Spain winger benefitted from Benzema's unselfish 84th-minute pass, while Modric and Federico Valverde combined for Jovic to rifle in his second LaLiga goal – and first since October – in stoppage time.

Inigo Perez rattling Thibaut Courtois crossbar showed Osasuna's spirit remained intact until the last.
 

What does it mean? Pressure on Barca

Madrid might not have been at their best here, but it does not matter. Barcelona's uncertain start to life under Setien will now continue with them eyeing a mounting deficit when they kick-off at Estadio Benito Villamarin. Anything more than three points for the Blaugrana and this weekend will come to appear pivotal in the title battle.

Ramos proves the master of irritation once more

He is certainly not to everyone's taste, but if you're a fan, this was time to enjoy some pure, unadulterated, hook-it-to-my-veins Sergio Ramos. Madrid were lucky to be level when Ramos decided to begin a prolonged argument with any Osasuna player willing to listen. The trap of distraction was set for the corner to come and the unmarked skipper proceeded to mock his opponents by sucking his thumb and blowing kisses in celebration. In a title race that could be scrapped for until the last, Madrid have the ideal man leading the charge.

Lack of sharpness does Bale no favours

Claiming an assist for Isco's equaliser would be ambitious, but Bale needs all he can get at Madrid right now. Granted only a 10th LaLiga start this term, the Wales star volleyed into the side-netting and headed over from Carvajal deliveries before half-time. They were, at best, half-chances but Bale's dwindling standing with Zidane means he now needs something special every time an opportunity comes his way.

What's next?

Madrid host Celta Vigo in seven days' time, when Osasuna travel to Athletic Bilbao.

Gareth Bale was named in Real Madrid's starting line-up for Sunday's LaLiga meeting with Osasuna at El Sadar.

Wales international Bale sat out Madrid's past four games, having initially struggled with an ankle injury sustained in the Copa del Rey clash against Unionistas de Salamanca on January 22.

However, he got the nod from Zinedine Zidane to make just his 10th league start of the season and first in over a month.

Bale's return was one of eight changes to the team that was eliminated from the Copa del Rey quarter-finals by Real Sociedad on Thursday.

Sergio Ramos, Federico Valverde and Karim Benzema were the only players to hang onto their places.

Thibaut Courtois was back in goal, with Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane and Ferland Mendy joining Ramos in defence.

Luka Modric and Casemiro were brought in for Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez, while Zidane picked Bale and Isco to flank Karim Benzema in attack.

Gareth Bale is back in Real Madrid's squad for Sunday's LaLiga trip to Osasuna following Zinedine Zidane's insistence there is no issue between the pair.

Bale, who is enduring an underwhelming season, last featured for Madrid in the Copa del Rey clash with Unionistas de Salamanca on January 22.

The ankle knock he suffered in that encounter was only minor, but after being left out for their next game – a 1-0 win at Real Valladolid – he also failed to get himself back in contention for the next three outings.

Most recently Madrid lost 4-3 at home in a thrilling Copa del Rey quarter-final tussle with Real Sociedad, and despite scoring Los Blancos' third, Rodrygo Goes is one of those to come out of the travelling party.

Eden Hazard continues to miss out as well – the Belgian yet to make his return from an ankle injury he suffered in November, despite making his comeback to training more than two weeks ago.

Also returning are Casemiro, Lucas Vazquez and Dani Carvajal as Madrid look to restore their six-point lead over Barcelona at the summit, who face head coach Quique Setien's former team Real Betis later the same day.

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