Bale working to get match fit as Real Madrid play Getafe
Gareth Bale will get his first taste of action at the Santiago Bernabeu as a Real Madrid player tomorrow when Los Blancos host struggling Getafe.
The Welshman started and scored in his debut away to Villarreal last weekend, but it wasn't enough to prevent Madrid dropping their first points of the season in a 2-2 draw.
Bale then started from the bench as Carlo Ancelotti's men destroyed Galatasaray 6-1 in their Champions League opener in midweek, thanks in large part to a 23rd career hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo.
And while he is still someway off being fully match fit after missing the majority of pre-season, Bale believes his fitness is improving all the time.
"It was great to play a little bit on Tuesday to improve my physical condition," he said.
"I haven't had a pre-season so that hasn't helped me as I couldn't play at all during the summer. Now I am trying to be in the best shape as soon as possible. I need to keep working hard in training and in the matches."
There has been much conjecture as to how compatible Bale and Ronaldo will be in the same side, but Getafe defender Sergio Escudero has admitted that should they play to their potential, there is almost no way to stop the dynamic duo.
"We know that they are two of the best players in the world," he told Madrid sports daily AS.
"Therefore, we have to be very concentrated and aware of their movements. If they have a good day, as they usually do, there is no plan that will stop them.
"The most important thing for us is to start well. At any moment they can hurt you so we have to be alert, run a lot and stop them in whatever we can."
Ancelotti may be able to name Fabio Coentrao at left-back for the first time this season as the Portuguese international has recovered from a slight muscle injury so Alvaro Arbeloa is expected to move across to right-back.
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas could also take his place on the bench after scans showed the rib injury he suffered against Galatasaray was no more than a bruise.
Barcelona have the chance to open up a five-point gap on Madrid for at least 24 hours when they travel to face Rayo Vallecano today.
Vallecas has been a happy hunting ground for the Catalans in the past two seasons with a 7-0 victory in the 2011 season followed by a 5-0 win last year.
It is not yet known whether Barca boss Gerardo Martino will be back in Spain in time to take charge of the side after he flew to his native Argentina after Wednesday's 4-0 win over Ajax in the Champions League to attend his father's funeral.
And the Spanish champions have their own injury problems in defence as Gerard Pique had to be withdrawn towards the end of the Ajax game with an adductor injury.
Carles Puyol has returned to training but is still very short of match practice, while Jordi Alba remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Atletico Madrid also can build on a win in their opening Champions League game on Wednesday by maintaining their 100 per cent league record today when they travel to Valladolid.