Published: Tue, September 12, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Critics not hurting Bale after injury pain at Real Madrid

Critics not hurting Bale after injury pain at Real Madrid

"On one hand it's easy now to say that I should have rested more", added Bale, who has been linked regularly with a move back to the Premier League with Manchester United.

In his absence, the European champions have dropped four points in their opening three games as they have drawn at home to both Valencia and Levante.

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In similar circumstances, defending champions, Real Madrid will be aiming to be the first club to achieve a three straight win since the feat of Germany's Bayern Munich in the 1970s.

"I want to do well for myself but I also want to try to help the team and win trophies". The Blues have been tasked with a hard group as they contend with Italian heavyweights, Roma and Spanish giants, Atletico Madrid. Monaco won its group as a fourth-seeded team last season. The loss of Neymar, and a complete lack of confidence in a board that has allowed Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta to enter the final year of their contracts has made Barcelona look vulnerable this summer. Matuidi was let go for a remarkably low fee in today's market and with squad option Grzegorz Krychowiak having also departed, they look light in the centre of the park.

"An injury is something that's very frustrating when you're a professional sportsman. There are so many factors".

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But the line-up of quarter-finalists since 2012 - when Chelsea were the last Premier League club to win the Champions League - makes for embarrassing reading ahead of this year's group stage.

This summer's transfer window saw the world transfer record obliterated when Paris St-Germain spent £198m on Neymar from Barcelona.

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This is a squad where the last World Cup's top scorer in James Rodriguez could be so under-utilised that Real nearly had to give him away, because one of the game's brightest stars in Marco Asensio is threatening the starting place of one of the market's most expensive players in Gareth Bale.

Their league start comes with mitigating circumstances - they're yet to be able to field either their first-choice defence, with Raphael Varane injured and Sergio Ramos missing one game through suspension, or their first-choice attack, due to Cristiano Ronaldo's five-game domestic ban. They will be without forward Karim Benzema for around a month after the Frenchman injured his hamstring against Levante.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu has claimed the Catalans will have a "more competitive" side this season than last despite losing Neymar after splashing out a fee that could rise to 145 million euros on 20-year-old French winger Ousmane Dembele to replace the Brazilian.

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