MADRID: Zinedine Zidane faces a problem when his side entertain Real Sociedad on Saturday afternoon: what should he do with Gareth Bale?
The Welsh forward hasn't played for Real Madrid since picking up a calf injury during the October international break, however, he recovered in order to help Wales qualify for the European Championship finals on Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Hungary.
He and his team-mates then celebrated with a flag which said "Wales, Golf, Madrid - in that order" which appears to his critics in the Spanish capital to show his priorities regarding Real Madrid, although before his calf injury Bale was decisive in several matches for the club.
That has not stopped a wave of criticism for Bale in the press and on social media although Zidane could well hand him a recall after saying he would "be important" for the club in his Friday press conference.
Real Madrid produced arguably their best display of the campaign before the international break to beat Eibar 4-0 away from home and Zidane is likely to maintain faith in the starting 11 which performed so well in a rainy Ipurua Stadium.
The big question for Zidane is whether he can afford to leave a fit Bale out of his squad to face one of the revelations of the season when Real Sociedad visit the Bernabeu. Bale could certainly provide pace and goals from the bench, but the coach will also have to weigh up the reactions of the crowd, who are tiring of Bale's injury problems with the club.
Real Sociedad travel to Madrid with just two points less than Saturday's rivals and would be joint leaders but if they hadn't dropped two points in their home match against bottom of the table Leganes before the international break.
The side from San Sebastian were without Martin Odegaard for that game as the Norwegian struggled with an ankle injury, but he will be fit to play in the Santiago Bernabeu. Odegaard has been outstanding for the Basque side this season after joining on a two-year loan from Madrid in the summer and his displays have started rumors that in the Bernabeu they are considering cutting that loan short and bringing him back in January.
Meanwhile Real Sociedad have to wait on Mikel Merino after the key midfielder suffered a shoulder injury during Tuesday's training session.