Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

Zinedine Zidane pleads with Real Madrid fans: get behind Gareth Bale, he's one of our own

Manger defends Welsh attacker over heavy criticism for celebrating with flag reading 'Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order' after qualifying for Euro 2020 finals

Gareth Bale training with Real Madrid ahead of their La Liga match against Real Sociedad on Sunday. EPA
Gareth Bale training with Real Madrid ahead of their La Liga match against Real Sociedad on Sunday. EPA

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane defended Gareth Bale from criticism over the Welshman's decision to celebrate his country's qualification for Euro 2020 with a flag that suggested the club were not top of his priorities.

Bale danced with a flag reading 'Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order' after Wales sealed qualification for their second consecutive European Championships earlier this week.

The forward has struggled to win over critics since arriving in Spain in 2013, despite contributing to four Champions League trophies in that time.

While it all appeared good humoured, the media in the Spanish capital failed to see the funny side and implored the club to sever ties with the player they signed for £85 million (Dh389m) six years ago, accusing Bale of a lack of respect.

"There's been a lot of noise about what he did but we need to just focus on football. It's all got a bit too much," Zidane said on Friday. "I'm just looking at what he can give us on the pitch, not what's said off it, that doesn't interest me.

"I believe he can become a decisive player for us again. He's an important player when he is injury free; he's shown that before and he will show it again."

Real, second in the La Liga standings behind leaders Barcelona on goal difference, host Real Sociedad on Sunday at the Bernabeu and Zidane implored the club's fans to rally behind Bale rather than get on his back. Bale has not played for the club since October 5 due to injury.

"When you see what he's given to the club and to the fans, those who feel our colours and come to the stadium, you can see he's one of our own and the fans need to get behind him," the Frenchman said.

CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 19: Wales celebrate at full time during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group E Qualifier match between Wales and Hungary at the Cardiff City Stadium on November 19, 2019 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)
Gareth Bale celebrates with his Welsh teammates with the flag which has offended real Madrid fans. Getty

Real will be without Lucas Vazquez for the visit of the Basque outfit after the forward broke his toe by dropping a weight on his foot during a workout on Thursday.

Barca are away at Leganes on Saturday, while Atletico visit Granada. Sevilla, in fourth, travel to Real Valladolid on Sunday.

Atletico will be without striker Diego Costa for around three months after the 31-year-old had surgery on a back problem. He could return in time for the Champions League last-16 matches at the end of February.

Updated: November 23, 2019 08:04 AM

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