Solari eases Real Madrid fears over Bale injury

Madrid have confirmed the Welshman has sustained a calf injury after he was taken off at half-time of the 2-2 draw with Villarreal

Real Madrid have confirmed Gareth Bale has sustained a calf injury, with head coach Santiago Solari hopeful that he’ll be back in action soon.

The Welshman limped out of his side’s 2-2 draw with Villarreal at half-time – the 11th occasion this season that he has been substituted in the top flight and the 15th in all competitions.

But Solari is hopeful he’ll only be out for a short period, with Madrid later confirming the forward had sustained a “grade 1 soleus muscle injury in his left leg” and that he’ll continue to be assessed.

The Argentine told reporters: “For now we believe that the Bale thing is something light and today they will put him on tests and we will have more information. We hope he is back soon because he is a very important player.

“The most important thing now is to recover players and avoid them getting injured. Footballers are not machines.”

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Solari also discussed Marcelo’s importance to Madrid, with the Brazilian left-back having been strongly linked with a move to Juventus in the January transfer window.

He added: “Marcelo has had a very difficult first half of the season with three very important injuries but he is very important for us and it is key that he takes his time.”

Despite the setback against Villarreal, Madrid are unbeaten in their last four games in La Liga and are currently seven points behind league leaders Barcelona.

And Solari has called on his players to maintain their focus as they attempt to further cut the gap to Ernesto Valverde’s side when they face Real Sociedad on Sunday.

“The objective is to continue climbing positions, the beginning has not been easy and we have gone from ninth to fourth,” he said.

“The competition is open and we have to continue to cut [Barcelona’s advantage] and go to each battle to win it. We had a good first half in Villarreal but it cost us the points for not scoring our chances.”

Madrid will still consider themselves in the hunt for the Liga title, while they are also in contention to win the Copa del Rey, where they will face Leganes in the last 16, and the Champions League.

And, having won the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi in what was a busy December for the club, Solari praised his players for their efforts.

He added: “We face three competitions and we’ll try to put in all the energy levels. The rivals change and their characteristics, the players are not machines. Nobody has had less vacation time than us, the players put all their effort in.

“Karim [Benzema] is a very generous player, [Dani] Carvajal has a huge heart, [Luka] Modric had a 39.4 degree temperature before Villarreal and went on to play, Lucas Vazquez has run 14 kilometers per game.

On Isco, Solari continued: “Isco has so much quality that he can play in any area of the field. Sometimes you do not have to be decisive with speed but with the quality and the final pass.”

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