Bale welcomes Ronaldo back

Gareth Bale welcomed team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo back to Real Madrid's starting line-up ahead of the derby versus Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale again attempted to show he has no problems with his attacking team-mates, hailing the return of Cristiano Ronaldo from suspension and applauding Karim Benzema's recent goal-scoring form.

The Spanish media have targeted Bale in recent weeks, claiming the Welshman hogs possession and that Ronaldo does not like the 25-year-old.

Bale refuted the speculated rift between him and Ronaldo in January and made similar comments on Friday, welcoming the Portuguese back from a two-game suspension.

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

"Looking forward to having him back on the pitch and hopefully keep winning."

Bale has eight assists in all competitions, with all but two benefitting Ronaldo.

Real have won their past five matches in La Liga ahead of their clash with Atleti and while Bale has not scored in the past two games, Benzema has picked up some of the scoring slack, notching three goals in as many weeks.

"He's [Benzema] playing very well at the moment and hopefully he'll continue scoring goals and playing well for the team," Bale said.

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