Villarreal, Spain – Gareth Bale is expected to make his highly-anticipated Real Madrid debut when his side heads to El Madrigal to take on Villarreal on Saturday.
The Welshman, who joined Madrid from Tottenham at the close of the summer transfer window for a world record fee of $132 million, had only begun training with his new club this week due to World Cup qualifying. The little time he had to acclimate himself in Spain led many to speculate whether or not Bale would be the squad this weekend, but Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti rebuffed that notion by revealing that the 24-year-old will play a part in Saturday's tie.
"Bale arrived without doing a normal pre-season, but his physical condition isn't bad," Ancelotti said during a press conference on Friday. "He will travel with the team and he will play.
"I need to decide if it is from the start or in the second half. He doesn't have any problem with injuries, he is excited and is very motivated. He will almost certainly play on the right."
There was speculation mounting that Bale could debut for Madrid at left-back after Marcelo, Fabio Coentrao and Alvaro Arbeloa all sustained injuries on international duty, but Ancelotti looks to set to go with Nacho in that position. Cristiano Ronaldo and Isco picked up minor knocks from their international matches, but Ancelotti confirmed that they will feature against Villarreal.
Real Madrid and Villarreal are two of four La Liga clubs that have started the season with maximum points through three matches, an anecdote that is sure to add a bit of spice to an already intriguing contest.
Barcelona, reigning La Liga champions, have also started the season with an unblemished league record through three matches, and the Catalans will attempt to extend that fine run of form with maximum points against Sevilla at Camp Nou on Saturday.
Rounding out Saturday's La Liga action, Real Sociedad will aim to get back to winning ways when it heads to the Ciutat de Valencia to take on Levante while Atletico Madrid tries to preserve its perfect start to the campaign when it welcomes newly-promoted Almeria to the Vicente Calderon.
On Sunday, Real Betis will go for its first win of the season when it welcomes Valencia to the Benito Villamarin, Rayo Vallecano will look to avoid a third straight defeat when it heads to La Rosaleda to face a winless Malaga side, Espanyol takes on Granada at Los Carmenes and Getafe welcomes Osasuna to the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
Monday's action will see Athletic Bilbao attempt to rebound from a defeat to Real Madrid in its last outing when it hosts Celta Vigo at San Mames while Valladolid looks to build upon a Getafe last time out when it takes on winless Elche at the Manuel Martinez Valero.