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On October 18th, 2014, Gareth Bale was benched for Real Madrid’s away trip to Levante for reasons that seemed related to the Welshman’s fitness issues. Two days later, it was officially confirmed that Bale had suffered a minor hamstring injury, which would keep him out of the squad entirely for El Clásico, an away trip to Granada, and the continental games against Liverpool.
This was unfortunate, as Bale had started the season in fine form. He had notched 5 goals and 5 assists in 12 games spanning across the Spanish Super Cup, the European Super Cup, La Liga, and the Champions League.
However, instead of seeing the situation as a problem, Ancelotti saw it as an opportunity to test a 4-4-2 formation that incorporated both James Rodríguez and Isco in the same lineup.
What followed was brief but delicious — Real Madrid played some of the most beautiful and effective football in their long and illustrious history and brushed Barcelona aside in a dominant Clásico performance.