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Bale Is A Crucial Player – Luis Enrique

Spain coach Luis Enrique says the absence of Gareth Bale in Thursday's international friendly against Wales will not change how his team approaches the contest.

Bale, who has scored five goals and set up three more in his first seven appearances for Real Madrid this season, has been ruled out of the encounter in Cardiff due to muscle fatigue.

"The Wales that we have analysed is one with Bale," Luis Enrique said in Wednesday's news conference at the Principality Stadium. "Bale improves two great qualities that Wales have which is speed and verticality. We shall see what type of national team Wales is without him.

"It's a notable absence for Wales but it doesn't change our concept of the game."

Luis Enrique knows Bale's qualities well from when he faced Real Madrid during his three seasons in charge of Barcelona.

"Bale is a crucial player, with a lot of quality and a great shot," he said. "I think his absence will affect Wales. We shall see which player replaces him."

Spain under Luis Enrique, who took over the national team following La Roja's round-of-16 shootout defeat to Russia at the World Cup, has looked impressive with a 2-1 win away to England and a 6-0 rout of Croatia in the UEFA Nations League.

The coach expects another convincing performance against Wales from his players, who will face England in Monday's Nations League clash in Seville.

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