Madrid's Bale to miss visit to Sporting, doubtful for Bayern

BARCELONA: Real Madrid will have to continue its march toward its first Spanish league title in five years without the injured Gareth Bale.

Coach Zinedine Zidane said Friday that an unidentified leg injury will keep the Wales winger from playing Saturday's match at Sporting Gijon.

"Bale won't feature tomorrow. We'll have to see what his injury is," Zidane said. "He has some swelling to his soleus. It's a muscular issue on the area he was operated on."

Bale underwent surgery on his right ankle at the end of November, sidelining him until he made a return as a substitute against Espanyol on Feb. 18.

Bale scored a late goal to seal that 2-0 win over Espanyol, and two games later he struck again to start a 3-2 fightback at Villarreal.

But since then he has been scoreless in six matches, including a 2-1 win at Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday when Cristiano Ronaldo netted both of Madrid's goals.

Bale had scored seven goals for Madrid this campaign before his injury layoff.

Zidane said he wasn't sure if Bale would be ready to play the return leg of the quarterfinal against Bayern next week.

"I'm worried about it because I don't like to see players out injured and all the more so during the run-in," said Zidane. "He was excited (to play) after having spent three months out, but he knows that it's not a serious (injury), it's just a setback.

"We'll be monitoring his progress every day and we'll see if he's fit in time for Tuesday."

Madrid has gone a Spanish record 53 straight games scoring at least one goal. It is closing in on Bayern's European record of 61 consecutive games with at least a goal, from March 2013 to April 2014.

Even playing away and without Bale, Sporting looks like easy pickings for the Liga front-runners.

Sporting is in the relegation zone and five points from safety. It has won just five times in 31 rounds this season, and has scored one goal in its last three games.

Madrid leads second-placed Barcelona by three points and has a game in hand on its rival.

Barcelona hosts Real Sociedad on Saturday, its first match since losing 3-0 at Juventus in the Champions League this week.