Gareth Bale could be a doubt for Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey quarterfinal second leg at home to Espanyol on Tuesday after having to be substituted at half-time against Granada on Saturday.
• Corrigan: Real keep it clean
Bale was kicked in the groin after only eight minutes of what was a routine 2-0 win at the Bernabeu, receiving a painful kick in the groin from defender Jeison Murillo after just eight minutes. That saw him struggle for the remainder of the half, and he was substituted at the break after completing only 12 passes and giving away possession 13 times.
LA FOTO | Ahí fue la patada de Iturra a Bale. Dicen por aquí que igual no vuelve a tener chiquillos... pic.twitter.com/rOQHlB4hwg— Carrusel Deportivo (@carrusel) January 25, 2014
Coach Carlo Ancelotti played down the issue at his postmatch news conference, saying: “[Bale] was replaced because he had a problem.
“He was not comfortable after getting kicked, he had a problem with his left leg. It's not an injury, more of a nuisance, and he will have no problems playing the next match.”
Nevertheless the issue has raised further concerns about the 101 million euro signing’s injury problems since his arrival, with AS pointing out on Monday that the former Tottenham winger has now completed the 90 minutes in only nine of 30 competitive games.
The paper also voiced anxiety that the latest problem could result in a longer than expected spell on the sidelines, as happened when an initially trivial-sounding knock suffered at training in December lead to three weeks on the sidelines.
Bale's performance on Saturday may have been hampered, but there were groans and even some whistles from fans at the Bernabeu as promising moves broke down when he became involved.
Many supporters and pundits have been calling for homegrown youngster Jese Rodriguez to get more minutes in Bale’s usual position on the right wing, although this is unlikely given the Wales captain’s higher profile and status within the squad.
His backers, meanwhile, can point out that he has contributed 10 goals and eight assists in 957 minutes on the pitch so far.