Real Madrid record signing Gareth Bale is once again under scrutiny at the Santiago Bernabeu after a recent poll revealed a majority of fans want the Wales international out of manager Carlo Ancelotti's starting line-up in response to the Spanish giants' current crisis.
The Champions League holders lost 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao on 7 March, a week after a home draw against Villarreal, conceding the leadership of La Liga to Barcelona ahead of the forthcoming Clasico, on 22 March.
And as it has been customary since his £89m ($134m) arrival from White Hart Lane, both Spanish fans and press alike have named Bale as the scapegoat of the club's current woes.
Even though the former Tottenham star scored crucial goals in both the Copa del Rey and the Champions League final last season, he has been booed by some of his own fans a number of times this season due to his "selfishness".
And now a poll by Spanish newspaper AS – whose readers are mostly made up of Real Madrid fans – revealed they want Bale to be dropped from Ancelotti starting line-up.
When questioned whether the Real Madrid manager should return to a 4-4-2 formation, more than 92% of respondents answered in the affirmative, while when asked which of the attacking trio – Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema – should be sacrificed, 47.73% picked the Wales international, with Cristiano Ronaldo in second place (31.28%) and Benzema approved with 20.99%.
Meanwhile, Marca has also urged Ancelotti to return to 4-4-2 ahead of the coming game against Barcelona, pointing out Real Madrid beat the Catalans in the last two Clasicos without one member of the attacking trio.
Nevertheless, Ronaldo missed the Copa del Rey final last season due to injury, while Bale was out of action during the first Clásico of this campaign, when Los Blancos won 3-1 in the La Liga game at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Furthemore, Bale has failed to add a goal to his tally in his last eight appearances for Los Blancos – seven La Liga games and a Champions League tie – while his last one came from the penalty spot in the victory over Cordoba on 24 January.