Bale to miss Madrid's trip to Bilbao

MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale will miss Sunday's Spanish league match at Athletic Bilbao as he looks to get back to match fitness.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said the world's most expensive player should return for Wednesday's Copa del Rey semifinal against Atletico Madrid after leaving last weekend's game against Granada with a calf injury.

"Bale is not available tomorrow because he didn't train with the group all week," Ancelotti said on Saturday. "The problem he had was very minor, he just needs to train and recover his confidence." Despite some brilliant performances, Bale has physically struggled since his record-breaking transfer from Tottenham last summer, with the Welsh winger spending more time recovering from injury than helping Madrid chase co-leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Bale has scored 10 goals from 22 appearances this season. Madrid, which trails the co-leaders by one point, will count on the return of France defender Raphael Varane, who had been sidelined since November by a knee injury.

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