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Gareth Bale faces big brace of Bernabeu outings

The Welshman has so far failed to shine and faces a big two matches to get his season up and running.

Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Closing the year with back-to-back home matches against Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad respectively may be just what the doctor ordered for Gareth Bale.

The Welshman has failed to get flying under Rafa Benitez so far this season with the only saving grace being that hardly any of his teammates have either.

Bale has been largely saved from being singled out as a troubled piece in the Madrid jigsaw this season on account of his new coach, and his president, courting much of the flack. That players such as Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos have also struggled for form this season have largely saved the former Tottenham Hotspur man's bacon. Cristiano Ronaldo has failed to win the fans over with his performances, despite his erratic goal gluts. Still, Bale has not performed how he would have liked.

All is not lost for the jet-heeled forward but Bale needs to fix his season if he wants to avoid another summer of uncertainty. The Welsh international was keen to prove himself this season but those performances worthy of being an immediate name down on the teamsheet have yet to materialize.

The Welshman has netted just four competitive goals this season, a figure not helped by a lengthy injury lay-off, and has provided a marginally better five assists for his teammates. His brace in Madrid's home opener against Real Betis a few months ago are but a distant memory.

His season has been but a sub-plot in a dysfunctional ‘BBC' this season. While Barcelona's ‘MSN' has largely flourished, even with talisman Lionel Messi sidelined through injury, Madrid's front three have limped through the season. Ronaldo has scored goals as he always does, but not on a consistent basis, while Karim Benzema's impressive start was thwarted by his off-the-pitch problems.

All three of Madrid's main attacking men started last weekend's match at Villarreal and none managed to find the back of the net in a match where Madrid failed to score for the fifth time this season. The statistics may show Benitez is not such a defensive coach as the press made out before the start of the campaign but he certainly has problems in making his front three tick.

The lack of success in attack is even more worrying from Bale's point of view. There were reports in the summer that suggested Benitez's main task was to make Bale the focal point of the team and to make the world's most expensive player look exactly that. The Spaniard flew to meet Bale personally, his first public sighting with a player, and those reports looked to be true.

But despite seemingly giving the ‘Cardiff Express' more freedom in his attacking line-ups, Bale has yet to come up trumps.

Benitez has tried his ‘special' one on the right, on the left, through the middle and just behind a two-man attack since his arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu but perhaps the best way forward is reverting the ‘BBC' back to how well they operated under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti.

In Benitez's defence, both Bale and Benzema have sat out lengthy spells through injury this season but with winnable games coming up on home soil and with a good bill of health in the squad, Madridistas will want to see the ‘BBC' firing on all cylinders. If they don't do it in the next two matches, they may never do it.

Something else Bale has been missing in recent weeks and months is the service of Dani Carvajal down the right. Summer recruit Danilo has yet to sufficiently prove he can start instead of the Spaniard week-in, week-out, and the return of Carvajal back to the starting eleven may well help the Welshman get back to his best.

Madrid have hit ten goals in their last two league matches at home against Paco Jemez's side and another high-scoring victory will be a welcome shot in the arm for a team sapped of confidence. Bale scored in both of those matches, twice in the first game and once in the second, while the ‘BBC' all netted in last season's 5-1 thumping. More of the same is needed t the Bernabeu on Sunday afternoon.

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