Warm-up injury delays start to 'Bale era'

The Welshman was forced off before kick-off with a thigh problem and replaced in the starting XI by Isco on what was supposed to be his home debut for Madrid at the Bernabeu
By Ben Hayward

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez claimed on Saturday that record signing Gareth Bale will "define an era" at the Spanish side, but that exciting epoque will have to wait after the Welshman pulled out of what should have been his home debut with a thigh problem on Sunday.

Bale was named in the starting XI for Madrid's clash at home to city rivals Getafe, but pulled up with an injury as he took a shot in the warm-up and was replaced in the side by Isco. And the former Malaga man was on target, along with Cristiano Ronaldo (twice) and Pepe in a 4-1 victory.

Bale scored on his Madrid debut in the 2-2 draw at Villarreal and came off the bench to impress in Real's 6-1 win at Galatasaray on Tuesday, but the 24-year-old has yet to feature at the Santiago Bernabeu after making his €100 million move from Tottenham earlier this month.

"Bale has a small problem," coach Carlo Ancelotti told the media after Madrid beat Getafe 4-1 on Sunday. "We can't say if it is an injury; we will have to wait until tomorrow to know more."

"He had a strange pre-season, both mentally and physically; he had to wait a long time [for the move to be completed] and that is a problem."

Earlier on Sunday, Florentino had told Madrid socios that Bale was destined to lead a new era at the capital club.

"Gareth has arrived to form part of a spectacular team," Perez said at the Assembly for socios on Sunday morning. "He was the image and the marquee player of the Premier League. He will help us win titles, La Decima and more trophies - that's the challenge. Bale is destined to define an era at Real Madrid."

However, following the Welshman's injury on Sunday, that era will have to wait - at least for a few more days.

Bale is now a big doubt for Madrid's trip to promoted side Elche in La Liga on Wednesday, but looks likely to make his home debut next Saturday in the capital clash against Atletico at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"I don't know if he will be back for Elche," Ancelotti explained. "But I am sure he will be ready to play against Atletico on Saturday."