Real Madrid won't have its pricey acquisition available to take on La Liga foe Elche, but they display more than enough talent at their disposal to leave with a victory.
Gareth Bale, who signed a transfer deal that made him the sport's richest player, suffered "fatigue in his left thigh muscle," according to ESPN FC. The 24-year-old midfielder is expected to miss Wednesday's match against Elche but return on Saturday to face Atletico Madrid.
Even without their new star, who arrived in style with a goal during his team debut on Sept. 14, Los Blancos should trounce Elche in the two's first meeting in 24 years.
Real Madrid has yet to lose through five La Liga matches, going 4-0-1 to loom in third place behind powerhouses Barcelona and Atletico. For them to have any shot at knocking down the table's two leaders, they must easily handle a winless squad barely out of last place.
Elche is 0-2-3 on the season, having mustered a mere four goals through five bouts. Cristiano Ronaldo and Isco have scored four goals apiece for a high-powered Real Madrid attack that has garnered 12 goals this season.
In their latest win over the weekend against Getafe, Real Madrid scored four times.
Bale's absence can help prevent a slaughter, but Ronaldo and Isco are still around to challenge a defense that has surrendered eight goals so far.
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is trying to keep his team from avoiding the proverbial trap game while Bale rests up for the weekend's Madrid derby. Even while trying to maintain the mindset that anything can happen if they let their guard down, he didn't sound too convinced (via Sky Sports).
"Of course we have to consider that we have more quality but if we don't use the same motivation, the same character of the opposing team, it will be difficult."
The second half of that quote is common coach-speak, but Ancelotti readily admitted that his club is flat out better. We know that, but he's not supposed to say that.
When a man generates a £86 million ($132 million) salary, nobody wants to see him resting on the sideline. After scoring 21 goals for Tottenham Hotspur last year, Bale was signed to a lavish deal to put Real Madrid over the hump.
That's not something that can be done in the sixth La Liga game against an overmatched club. They need him at 100 percent on Saturday, when they attempt to derail the undefeated Atletico with major La Liga stakes at hand.
As anxious as they are to put their mega investment to use, Real Madrid are smart to keep Bale out as they defeat Elche without him.