Zidane hints at resting Gareth Bale

Could Gareth Bale miss Wales' final two World Cup qualifiers

In his debut half-season at the helm it was a 6-0 victory against Espanyol that brought purring in the Spanish press over Zidane and his reinvention of a side that had been listless and leaderless under Rafa Benitez, who never really fit the company profile despite his sterling work at Castilla.

The opening exchange of Sunday's meeting at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu was as one-sided as one is likely to see at this level.

Real Madrid record their first home La Liga win of the 2017-18 campaign courtesy of a 2-0 success over Espanyol on Sunday night.

Real made no announcement on the injury, which was originally thought to only be a cramp, but Zidane said Bale had a small calf strain.

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"I see him in good shape, I see that he is happy and focused", said Zidane at his pre-match media conference after being asked about a Ronaldo renewal.

Madrid are seven points behind Liga leaders Barcelona in sixth place in the Liga standings after dropping points in each of their three home games this season.

"We would love to play all our games here at the Bernabeu", he said. Gareth Bale is a doubt and may not be risked ahead of the global break where he will surely feature for Wales, with qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on the line.

"We know that although we have the best players that does not mean we win every game by three or four goals". Oscar Duarte remains out injured with a long-term injury, although Javi Fuego is back from sickness and can feature alongside Sergi Darder in midfield.

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The bad news keeps coming for Real Madrid... Leaving Real Madrid in the shade when it comes to La Liga.

Make friends: Check out Managing Madrid for more Real Madrid coverage. With Gareth Bale a doubt as well, things will revolve around Ronaldo and he simply has to deliver - a situation in which he thrives.

Gerard Moreno hit the post just before the break, whilst Keylor Navas denied Marc Navarro and Nacho produced a brilliant goal line clearance to prevent Leo Baptistao a tap in. This must be the start of a recovery for Zidane's side. That confidence shone through in midweek, with Real Madrid beating Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion for the first time in their history.

It's unclear why there is such a difference in results at home and away this season, but the demands of the fans in the Bernabeu, where nothing else than a win will suffice, could be one reason and supporters have been quick to latch onto errors and boo players such as Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema. It might not be the most comfortable of games, but Madrid might finally pull through.

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