Courtois dropped by Real Madrid as Bale starts against Alaves

Thibaut Courtois has been dropped to the bench for Real Madrid's trip to Deportivo Alaves in La Liga on Saturday, while Gareth Bale makes his return to the starting XI.

The Blancos are gearing up for a return to domestic action four days after a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Paris Sant-Germain in the Champions League.

Madrid held a 2-0 lead heading into the final 10 minutes of the match at Santiago Bernabeu, before a mix-up between Courtois and Raphael Varane allowed Kylian Mbappe to fire the visitors back into the game.

And the Belgian goalkeeper has seemingly paid the price for some erratic displays at the start of the 2019-20 campaign by being left on the bench for Madrid's latest domestic outing, with Alphonse Areola drafted in as his replacement.

Courtois has been criticised on a consistent basis since joining the club from Chelsea in 2018, largely failing to live up to his reputation as one of Europe's finest shot-stoppers.

Areola - who joined Madrid from PSG back in September - could now challenge for the 27-year-old's No.1 jersey, especially if he produces a strong performance against Alaves.

Elsewhere, Bale has been restored to Zinedine Zidane's line-up as the Blancos aim to overtake Barcelona at the Liga summit.

Gareth Bale Real Madrid 2019

Bale has not started for Madrid since a 4-2 win over Granada on October 5, having dealt with persistent fitness issues before the international break.

The Welshman did, however, play for his country in Euro 2020 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Hungary earlier this month, which led to his loyalty to Madrid's cause being questioned by supporters.

Bale's future in the Spanish capital has been the subject of much speculation, but Zidane insisted that the 30-year-old remains an important part of his squad after he returned from international duty.

Madrid will go top of La Liga with a win against Alaves, before Barcelona take in a tough trip to Wanda Metropolitano to face Atletico Madrid on Sunday night.

Zidane will then start preparing his side for Espanyol's arrival at the Bernabeu on December 7, as the festive period starts to get into full swing.

Madrid have a final Champions League group-stage encounter in Belgium against Club Brugge four days later, where Zidane will have the chance to shuffle his squad with a place in the last 16 already assured.