Real Madrid's Ronaldo, Bale fit for Athletic Bilbao clash

AFP, Saturday 4 Oct 2014

Real Madrid
Real Madrid's Ronaldo celebrates with team mate Benzema after he scored against Villarreal during their Spanish first division soccer match at the Madrigal stadium in Villarreal (Photo: Reuters)

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will start his side's La Liga clash with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday after recovering from minor injuries.

Ronaldo and Bale had failed the train with their teammates on Friday due to knocks picked up in Real's hard-fought 2-1 win away to Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad in midweek.

However, Ancelotti was handed a huge boost as both took a full part in training on Saturday and the Italian also confirmed that Iker Casillas would continue in goal.

"Cristiano is fine, he is completely recovered and will play, as will Bale and Iker," he said.

Despite scoring five times in 11 appearances so far this season, Bale's performances have come under scrutiny in the Spanish press for not helping out defensively as the European champions have struggled to keep clean sheets.

And Ancelotti has demanded more, not only from the Welshman, but from all his forward players to help win the ball back higher up the field.

"Defensive work isn't an individual thing. Everyone has to give more in that sense.

"I ask of Gareth the same I ask of all the forward players. They have to work more both offensively and in regaining the ball."

Madrid have recovered from a poor start to the season with five consecutive victories in all competitions to move to within four points of leaders Barcelona.

Athletic's form, meanwhile, has been awful as the Basques sit outside the relegation zone only on goal difference and were beaten by BATE Borisov in the Champions League in midweek.

"They are a team that fight a lot, with a lot of quality and character," warned Ancelotti.

"They haven't started well, they had to prepare for the Champions League qualifiers and then have missed important players, but we need to be very careful with them.

"This could be the ideal game for them to turn it around."

However Athletic's top scorer Aritz Aduriz is a serious doubt for the trip to the Bernabeu as he limped out of training on Saturday with an abductor injury.

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