Bale ruled out of Champions League second leg vs. Bayern, 'hopefully' back for Clasico

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Monday April 17th, 2017

MADRID (AP) – Real Madrid will be without Gareth Bale in its Champions League quarterfinal against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Coach Zinedine Zidane said the forward has not fully recovered from a muscle injury in his right leg and will miss the second leg match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Defending champion Madrid defeated Bayern 2-1 last week in Munich.

''He will not play because we don't want to take any risks,'' Zidane said on Monday. ''He wants to come back, he has been working hard. Hopefully he will be back for the Clasico (against Barcelona) but it's not certain yet. We will see how he progresses day by day.''

Madrid hosts Barcelona in the Spanish league on Sunday in a key game for the title race. Madrid, seeking its first league title since 2012, has a three-point lead and a game in hand.

Bale had to be substituted in the second half of the match against Bayern and missed the team's Spanish league match at Sporting Gijon on Saturday.

The Wales forward was out for nearly three months this season after a right ankle injury.

Zidane did not say who will replace Bale, but Francisco ''Isco'' Alarcon - who scored twice to lead Madrid to a late 3-2 win over Sporting - is expected to start. Among Zidane's other options are Marco Asensio and Alvaro Morata.

''We'll see how we will play, if we will change our scheme or not,'' Zidane said.

Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti said Bale's absence will not give his team much of an advantage.

''They have plenty of good players to replace Bale,'' Ancelotti said. ''We are not going to worry about that.''

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Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored both first-leg goals for Madrid in Munich, is set to start on Tuesday along with Karim Benzema.

If Isco or Asensio play, Ronaldo and Benzema would be more isolated up front, while Morata would allow Zidane to keep three true forwards in the attack.

Robert Lewandowski, who hasn't played since injuring his right shoulder against Borussia Dortmund on April 8, is expected to start for Bayern.

''Without a doubt he is a great player,'' Madrid defensive midfielder Casemiro said of the Poland striker. But he added: ''Bayern has a lot of quality players and a great squad, we can't worry only about Lewandowski.''

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