Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari is happy to ease Gareth Bale back into action after he made his first start since suffering a calf injury.
The Wales international played 63 minutes of Real’s 3-0 LaLiga victory over Alaves on Sunday evening following two appearances as a substitute.
Bale struggled to impose himself on the game but Solari was content with his contribution as he carefully managed his return.
He told LaLigatv: “Gareth is coming through a process of being out for while. He’s been playing half an hour here, half an hour there and now an hour today.
“He’s just looking for the rhythm that he needs.”
Bale left the pitch with Madrid leading by Karim Benzema’s 30th-minute strike and with Alaves threatening to get themselves back into the game.
However, the impressive Vinicius Junior doubled his side’s advantage 10 minutes from time and substitute Mariano Diaz made sure with a spectacular diving header at the death to complete a fifth successive win in all competitions.
Solari, whose team heads for Barcelona and the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday evening before the Madrid derby at the weekend, was satisfied with what he saw as third-placed Real closed the gap on neighbours Atletico to two points with leaders Barca a further six ahead.
He said: “We want to put everything into our next game and today, we had a very difficult game against Alaves. But we had a desire to cut the gap at the top and we want to continue on that path.”
For Alaves, who would have gone fifth with a draw at the Bernabeu Stadium, it was a third successive league defeat.
However, skipper Manu Garcia was quick to put the result into perspective.
Garcia said: “The game was still open until the 80th minute when they scored the second goal and they made it 3-0 on another counter-attack.
“It doesn’t really hurt us too much because we know who Real Madrid are. We have to know who we are and where we are, we have to know which competition we are playing in.
“This team is very disciplined, we work very hard – we have been showing that so far. We have got another game next Monday and we will be working 100 per cent for that. It’s a long season.”
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