He may be one of the world’s finest footballers, but Gareth Bale’s struggles with injury this season are reportedly causing several of his Real Madrid teammates to campaign for him to be benched for the Champions League final.
Bale is expected to be fit in time for the showdown with Juventus on 3rd June, having missed the last few weeks with a muscle injury.
Being that this year’s final is in Bale’s hometown of Cardiff, the Welsh captain is obviously desperate to start against Juve, yet many of his teammates would prefer to see Isco start ahead of the Welshman.
Isco has been in fine form as of late and was especially impressive during both legs of the semi-final with city rivals Atletico. Many members of the Real team believe the Spanish midfielder brings more balance to Zinedine Zidane’s side and, judging by recent performances, it’s hard to argue.
According to Diario Gol, Cristiano Ronaldo is leading the queue of Los Blancos stars who would prefer to see Isco in Zidane’s starting XI for the final against the Bianconeri in two and a half weeks’ time.
Along with Ronaldo, club captain Sergio Ramos also favours his countryman over Bale, as do Marcelo, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao and Casemiro.
Bale does have some support though, with Toni Kroos and fellow ex-Spurs player Luka Modric fighting his corner ahead of Real’s second consecutive Champions League final.
According to Spanish football expert Graham Hunter, there is a real possibility the 27-year-old Welshman is heading back to the Premier League this summer, with United the firm favourites to land him. The former Spurs winger only signed a new deal at the Bernabeu last October but after an injury-ravaged season, he has been linked with an exit.
The Welshman has lifted the trophy twice since completing his then world record-breaking £86m move from Tottenham in 2013. It was Bale who gave Real the lead during extra-time of the 2014 final against Atletico Madrid and he also scored a penalty in last year’s victorious shoot-out at the San Siro.
But who would you start against Juventus if you were Zinedine Zidane? Bale or Isco?