Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane welcomes UCL final dilemma after Gareth Bale shines

With the UCL final on the horizon, the FC panel assess Gareth Bale’s recent form and debate whether it merits a place in Zinedine Zidane’s XI.
Gareth Bale made it three La Liga seasons with at least 15 goals as Real hit Celta Vigo for six at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he is looking forward to a selection dilemma for the looming Champions League final against Liverpool, after both Gareth Bale and Isco starred in Saturday evening’s 6-0 La Liga stroll past Celta Vigo at the Bernabeu.

Madrid were ahead 13 minutes in when Bale sprinted onto a Luka Modric through ball and finished confidently from the edge of the box, and the Wales international soon made it 2-0 with an even better strike as he cut back inside his marker to whip an unstoppable shot to the far top corner.

Moments later Isco curled in another beauty from the edge of the penalty area, in his first game back after a month’s absence due to a shoulder injury.

The Los Blancos coach told the postgame news conference that he did not have an XI in mind yet for the UCL decider in Kiev on May 26 but was happy with the difficult decision he would have to make.

“I don’t know the team yet,” Zidane said. “It is better like this, to have everyone switched on and ready. It will be difficult to pick the team for the final, but I prefer it like that.

“We played a good game today, which was important. Training cannot substitute for games. Today we played well, scored many goals, and kept a clean sheet.”

Gareth Bale impressed his manager with two goals.

Bale has nine goals in his last 11 La Liga appearances, but has featured less in the Champions League recently, amid renewed speculation that the former Tottenham player could leave Madrid this summer.

“What [Bale] did today was very good, I am very happy for him, for his goals,” Zidane said. “He is playing very well, not just his goals, that he is going well in everything. There is still one game to go [at Villarreal next week], and then we will play this final, and that’s it.”

Saturday’s game saw goalkeeper Keylor Navas keep his first clean sheet in any competition at the Bernabeu in the 2018 calendar year, and Zidane said he was happy for the Costa Rica international.

“I am happy for [Navas], with all the stick he has taken,” he said. “When we conceded it was not just Keylor’s fault, it was down to all of us. I am happy for his game, keeping a clean sheet was important today. He saved us two or three times, also in the first goal he plays the ball quickly to Luka [Modric], who finds Gareth. When Keylor can do these things too it is very important.”

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan