Cristiano Ronaldo must get Real Madrid's season back on track with a series of impressive performances whilst world-record signing Gareth Bale recovers from another injury setback.
Bale out for 3 wks and won't be fully fit til Nov, says @JLsanchez78. Rushing him into debut after inactive pre-season looks ever dumber now— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) October 2, 2013
Bale's participation in October's El Classico looks in major doubt with him looking at three further weeks on the sidelines.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti will be under pressure to play Bale as soon as he is fit, especially if he returns to training ahead of the Barcelona clash, but he would be wise to ignore calls to play the Welshman.
The summer signing has a history of niggling injuries and his fitness must be managed, otherwise Madrid risk losing him for longer.
But the pressure will ramp up with every game Bale misses, so the onus is on Ronaldo to step up and ensure no cheap points are dropped until his co-star can return to the side.
Next up for Madrid are Copenhagen, Levante and Malaga—three games they should comfortably win. It's the perfect opportunity for Ronaldo to steal the attention by bagging a host of goals whilst Bale quietly gets himself up to pace with the Spanish game.
And even once he recovers from injury, there is no rush to throw him into the starting line-up, given the stars Madrid already boast.
By temporarily forgetting about the £86 million price tag, Madrid can allow Bale to settle into his new surroundings without the expectation that the club's success rests upon his shoulders.
One limp performance against rivals Atletico may have caused concern to some fans, but Madrid are not a team even close to turmoil. They sit five points off La Liga summit, still a recoverable margin, and thrashed Galatasaray in their opening Champions League fixture.
They lacked intensity, particularly after Bale had joined proceedings, as though the team expected Ronaldo or the Welshman to win the match on their own. That didn't happen and Bale's injury will allow the team to forget about incorporating their new man and get their season back on track.
Letting Bale recover fully and introducing him slowly in the following matches puts a lot of pressure on Ronaldo. But this is a man intent on dethroning Lionel Messi as the greatest currently alive and he will thrive on it.
Obviously the fans will expect results from the most expensive player in history, but give it time and a partnership of a fully-fit Bale and Ronaldo could be frightening.
Perhaps devastating enough to propel them to La Liga title or end their drought of European silverware.
If Ronaldo can shoulder the burden until Bale is fit and settled, it could turn out to be a very successful season for Madrid.