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Ancelotti: Bale’s having a fantastic season

Gareth-Bale-Champions-LeagueReal Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti believes Gareth Bale is having a “fantastic season” and has called on the Welshman’s critics to relax. The 25-year-old has been questioned in the Spanish press in recent weeks for being too selfish in missing glorious opportunities against Valencia, Espanyol and Real Sociedad, with team-mates waiting for a pass to apply the finishing touch. However, Ancelotti pointed to Bale’s record in scoring in three finals in 2014, as well as the 27 assists he has provided in little over 18 months at the club.

“Bale is doing everything to help the team,” said the Italian. “He did very well last year, scoring in all the finals we played. He is having a fantastic season, and we are at ease because he is playing well for the team.

“I don’t think I heard whistles in the game against Real Sociedad. He had some great moves which the crowd appreciated.”

Bale played on the left side of Real’s attack in the 4-1 win over Sociedad on Saturday as Cristiano Ronaldo served the first of a two-game ban. However, Ancelotti insisted that Ronaldo and Bale would return to their normal positions for this weekend’s duel with reigning champions Atletico Madrid.

“Bale likes to play more on the right because he has more opportunities to shoot at goal than on the left wing,” explained Ancelotti. “If he Cristiano Ronaldo and [Karim] Benzema are fit, they will always play. Of that there is no doubt.”

Real could practically end Atletico’s title defence should they beat Sevilla at home on Wednesday and then down Diego Simeone’s men for the first time in six tries this season. Two victories would put Real ten points clear of their city rivals, and seven clear of Barcelona for at least 24 hours as they travel to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

However, having thrown away a lead in the title race last spring, Ancelotti insists the championship will go down to the wire.

He said: “The game against Sevilla is risky if we don’t give our best. The most important match is tomorrow, not the derby. We can increase the gap on our rivals, so we will play our strongest team.

“The league will be resolved at the end of the season, just like last season. It is important to have an advantage at the moment, but nothing is decided yet.”

Ronaldo will complete his suspension against Sevilla, while Fabio Coentrao, Pepe and Luka Modric miss out through injury.