Gareth Bale is in the spotlight once again. The former Tottenham midfielder has been constantly questioned ever since his €100 million move to Real Madrid in 2013 and now, his place in the team could be under threat.
The Welsh winger ultimately proved his criticswrong in his debut campaign with Los Blancos, scoring vital goals in the final of the Champions League and the Copa del Rey as Madrid won both of those trophies. But a disappointing second season saw more doubts and despite winning the Champions League again last year, not everyone is convinced.
Coach Zinedine Zidane has said from day one that his idea is to play with the 'BBC' trident featuring Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Frenchman has remained true to his word when all three are fit.
However, eachhashad spells on the sidelines in the current campaign and Madrid have arguably been more effective when not all of the trident are together in theline-up. And at the moment, Bale is strugglingin the side as Isco and Marco Asensio push for a starting spot.
Out for almost three months between November and February with a seriousankle injury, Bale made an instant impression by scoring upon his return, but was desperately disappointing in the Madrid derby draw against Atletico last weekend and also made minimal impact away to Bayern last Wednesday.
The 27-year-old was replaced by Asensio after 58 minutes of that match and the former Mallorca midfielder went on to set up the winning goal for Ronaldo in his time on the pitch.
It emerged, however, that Bale had been brought off due to an injury and he also sat out the weekend win over Sporting Gijon, when Isco was the star man with two superb strikes to seal a vital victory at El Molinon.
Both Asensio and Isco are currently on better form than Bale and with the Welshman sidelined for the second-leg game against Bayern on Tuesday with a calf problem, one of the two is likely to be given another opportunity to shine.
"Gareth has been working hard to get back and after his three months out, he hascome back and was very excited about playing again," Zidane said on Monday. "But he hasgot a little problem that has come up again. We hope it's nothing. In a few more days he should be back with us."
However, the Frenchman did not confirm whether the winger would be available for the Clasico against Barcelona on Sunday and, asked about his replacement on Tuesday night, he said: "I have decided who will play instead of Bale, but I am not going to tell you."
Isco surely deservesa start after his dynamic display against Sporting, but Zidane simply said: "He is ready and that is the most important thing for me."
Indeed, both he and Asensio are pushing to break up the BBC trident and their impressive performances may just make Zidane realise that he does not needto play thethree famous forwardsin every single oneof his team'sbiggest matches.