It seems odd to suggest that a team that has lost once and drawn once in league play could use a lift. It seems even stranger to suggest that about a team that has won eight of 10 matches.
And yet for Real Madrid, currently five points out of first place behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid despite taking 19 of a possible 24 points to start the season, a small boost on the road to perfection is exactly what they need.
And that's where Gareth Bale comes in.
It's become clear in La Liga that winning a title will be an exercise in perfection. You can't lose to a top-three team. You can't fail to take three points against any other clubs. That is the pressure Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid face, and Real Madrid has already blinked twice, losing to their Madrid rivals and drawing with Villarreal.
But the man who changed the identity of this club, Bale, is healthy and should play this week. The man who cost a small fortune but has mostly been unable to play due to injuries is ready to make a difference.
From Sky Sports:
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti says Gareth Bale is fit and ready to play against Malaga in La Liga on Saturday.
Ancelotti says that Bale's back injury is not the reason he has missed games this season, instead blaming a "lack of pre-season training" that has led to a hamstring pull.
Earlier this week Madrid issued a statement dismissing reports that the winger had a suffered a slipped disc in his back and might need surgery.
Bale has appeared in just three matches across all competitions for Real Madrid, notching one goal. WhoScored.com has given him an overall match rating of 6.88 for those appearances—not exactly the type of sterling mark we've become accustomed to seeing from him.
But a healthy Bale opposite of Cristiano Ronaldo, with dazzling youngster Isco between them, is a terrifying thought for opponents. In Ronaldo and Bale, Real Madrid have a pair of physical presences that can break down defenders, score from distance, score from free kicks and win a game on their own.
Last season, the pair combined to score 55 goals and added 14 assists in league play, albeit in different leagues. Only six Premier League clubs and seven La Liga clubs scored more than the pair combined in 2012-13.
Some fans out there will continue to lament the sale of Mesut Ozil, who has been nothing short of brilliant for Arsenal upon his arrival. But Real Madrid fans will grow to love Isco just as much—if they haven't already—as the crafty Spaniard performs one beautiful footballing feat after another.
And if Bale can stay healthy and offer Real Madrid the form Tottenham enjoyed last season, the pursuit of perfection required atop the table in La Liga this year may not be so difficult for Real Madrid to attain.
Los Blancos have been quite good this season. They need Bale to return and provide the spark that pushes them into greatness.
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