Bale has 'more excitement' playing for Wales than for Real Madrid

Gareth Bale says he is always more excited to play for his country over his club side Real Madrid as Wales head into their decisive Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Bale has been at the centre of a Spanish storm by going away on international duty despite not playing for Real since early October.

The 30-year-old has not played since scoring in Wales' 1-1 draw against Croatia on October 13, with a calf injury since preventing him from even training with Los Blancos' first-team squad in the intervening five weeks.

But Bale has joined up with Wales ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Hungary - and says he expects to start both games.

"I definitely have more excitement playing for Wales," Bale said ahead of the Group E qualifier in Azerbaijan on Saturday.

Credit: PA Images

I've been with most of the older players since we were in the under-17s.

Gareth Bale, Wales captain

Real team-mate Toni Kroos criticised Bale for joining up with Wales having missed club games, with the German midfielder saying "maybe this is not the best time".

Predrag Mijatovic, the former Real striker, also turned the heat up on Bale by saying his priorities are "Wales, golf, and after that Real Madrid".

That phrase has been taken up as a badge of honour by Wales fans on social media, and prompted one supporter to put those words on a Welsh flag.

Asked about the Spanish media's relentless criticism of him, keen golfer Bale said: "I find it hilarious to be honest, especially some of the pictures and stuff my friends send me.

"On one it said triple bogey - and I've never had a triple bogey! At least give me an albatross! It's funny.

"Some of the things I have seen, people don't understand and don't know what they're on about. So I just find it quite funny."

Wales probably need to win their final two games to secure automatic qualification for Euro 2020.

Bale expects to play in both matches, although he qualified that by saying he is not sure "if I'll play the two whole 90 minutes".

"I've done my rehab, four weeks training," he said.

Obviously there are two big games and I'm not sure if I'll play the two whole 90 minutes. But I'll do my best to play as much as I can. I fully understand the position I'm in.

Gareth Bale