Reports from Madrid on Friday suggest that Gareth Bale will return from a thigh strain to play in his first Madrid derby against Real’s noisy neighbors Atletico on Saturday night.

And Los Galacticos certainly need their most expensive signing to shine on the big stage on his home debut at the Santiago Bernabeu.

On Wednesday night Real narrowly beat newly promoted Elche 2-1 after a hugely contentious penalty kick in the 94th minute of play was converted by Cristiano Ronaldo. But throughout that contest they lacked a cutting edge and change of pace that Bale will deliver if fully fit and raring to go.

However it will be hard to not be fired up for this game as many Madristas will have already told him all about the history and ferocity of this rivalry.

The intensity of these derby games is burgeoning as Atletico have turned into a real European superpower in recent seasons. Yes they’ve lost star striker Radamel Falcao to money bags Monaco but they’ve got a new star emerging in attack as Brazil’s Diego Costa is banging in the goals (scoring seven in six games already this season) and proving his worth in La Liga.