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Bale to start as Madrid lose Ronaldo ban appeal

07 February 2014, 19:14

Madrid - Gareth Bale is set to return to the Real Madrid side for this weekend's match against Villarreal, but Cristiano Ronaldo will not play after losing an appeal against a three-match ban.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Friday that they had upheld Ronaldo's ban following his red card in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao in La Liga.

The sending-off came after a clash with Athletic midfielder Ander Iturraspe 15 minutes from the end of the game at San Mames.

In a statement, the RFEF said that the decision to show the red card was "in line with the application of the rules".

Referee Ayza Gamez's report after the match also accused Ronaldo of insulting the officials, stating that, "after being sent off and while he was leaving the field, (he) slapped his own face several times with the palm of his hand in the direction of the fourth official".

The suspension only applies to league games, meaning the Ballon d'Or winner was able to play against Atletico Madrid in the 3-0 Copa del Rey semi-final, first-leg win on Wednesday.

He will sit out Saturday's meeting with Villarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu while also missing games against Getafe and Elche.

That means the return of Bale after three games on the sidelines with a leg knock is a timely boost for Madrid, who come into the weekend three points behind league leaders Atletico.

"He will start. He's fine, he has no problem," said coach Carlo Ancelotti at a press conference on Friday. "He is in good physical condition."

The 24-year-old suffered the injury against Granada two weeks ago and missed the Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg against Espanyol while also missing the matches against Athletic and Atletico, pulling out of the latter game at the last minute.

"I always tell the truth. When I say Bale is fine it is because he is fine," smiled Ancelotti, denying suggestions that he might have suffered a relapse.

The Italian also indicated that he might rotate his squad to keep legs fresh for the meeting with a Villarreal side who lie in fifth place in the table.

"We will see, because some of the players had a very intense match on Wednesday and have not yet fully recovered.

"I won't start players who don't feel fine because I have others who are fresh, such as (Asier) Illarramendi and Isco," he added, citing Xabi Alonso, Angel Di Maria and Pepe as players who might miss out.




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