Ronaldo’s return a big bonus, says Bale


Cristiano Ronaldo's return from suspension has been hailed as "a big bonus" by Real Madrid colleague Gareth Bale.


Sections of the Spanish media have been critical of Bale in recent weeks by highlighting instances when he has failed to score and questioning his decisions to go alone rather than pass to a team-mate.

The Welshman refuted the speculated rift between him and Ronaldo in January and made similar comments on Friday, welcoming the Portuguese forward back from a two-game suspension on the eve of the Madrid derby.

"Obviously Cristiano is a massive player for us and to have him back will obviously be a big bonus," Bale, who has eight assists this season, said in an interview with Bwin's YouTube channel.

"I'm looking forward to having him back on the pitch and hopefully we keep winning."

Real have won their past five matches in La Liga ahead of their trip to the Vicente Calderon, and while Bale has not scored in the past two games, Karim Benzema has picked up some of the scoring slack by notching three goals in as many weeks.

"Benzema's playing very well at the moment and hopefully he'll continue scoring goals and playing well for the team," the former Tottenham attacker added.

If the European champions can overcome Atleti, they will move 10 points clear of their local rivals and seven ahead of second-placed Barcelona, who visit Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.