Spanish Football Expert & Columnist @GuillemBalague
Gareth Bale will start El Clasico if he feels fit, says Guillem Balague
Last Updated: 19/12/17 2:19pm
Real Madrid will pick Gareth Bale from the start against Barcelona if the forward feels he is fit, according to Spanish football expert Guillem Balague.
Barcelona have perhaps unsurprisingly confirmed they will not be providing their fiercest rivals with a guard of honour ahead of the match - live on Sky Sports Football this Saturday - following their Club World Cup triumph over Gremio in Abu Dhabi.
But the Santiago Bernabeu could welcome the return of Bale, who played the final 10 minutes during the 1-0 victory over the Brazilian outfit at the weekend and has not played a league match since late September.
Real boss Zinedine Zidane was impressed by the Wales international's brief cameo upon his return from a calf problem, which followed his strike in the 2-1 win over Al Jazira Club in the semi-finals.
Bale has endured an injury-ravaged campaign to date, and with Zidane again downplaying speculation that the forward will be sold before the start of next season, Balague would not be surprised if the 28-year-old played a starting role in the high noon encounter.
Speaking on the La Liga Weekly podcast, he said: "I think it's going to be Bale (who starts). If Bale feels that he's fit, he'll start. Not (Zinedine) Zidane, not Florentino (Perez).
"Fit means that for an hour he can play at the level he has done for the last 10 or 12 minutes in the last two games which is possible if he feels confident.
"If he feels that he is ready then he will start which will be a bit of a shock for some, especially for Isco I'd imagine.
"He, of course, got injured when he tried to come back too quickly before for an El Clasico so that'll make people think and they could give him even more time to recover.
"If that's what they'll decide then fine, but if he says he's fit then 100 per cent he'll play."
Terry Gibson added: "In an ideal world, Bale would want three or four games before El Clasico. Isco's the interesting one because in the last year quite rightly he'll feel more important than he was, an established member of the starting team.
"This will bring back memories of missing out on every big game Real Madrid had which led to him being restless so that's a big decision for Zidane."