Injured Bale expected to miss Champions League semi-finals

MADRID: Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale is expected to miss the Champions League semifinals because of a calf muscle injury.

The club said tests on Tuesday confirmed the extent of the left calf injury that forced Bale to leave the Spanish league game against Barcelona on Sunday before halftime.

Madrid did not specify how long it expects Bale to be sidelined, but similar injuries usually require three to four weeks of recovery time.

The first leg against city rival Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals is next week. The second leg is on May 10.

Bale was out for nearly three months this season after surgery on his right ankle.

He had missed the second leg against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League because of another muscle injury.

Many criticized coach Zinedine Zidane for putting him back in the lineup too soon.

"If I could do it again, I'd do the same thing," Zidane said. "He trained normally and wasn't in pain. It's something that can't be avoided. When you've had a long term injury, it's difficult when you come back. Hopefully he's not out long. It's an injury but it's not serious and we're going to try to have him back quickly."

Bale will also miss some key games in the Spanish league, which ends on May 21. Madrid and Barcelona are tied at the top with 75 points each.

"I hope he's back with us before the end of the league," Zidane said. "We will see how things go day to day."