Comparing Gareth Bale in 2010 to the Spurs Player Who'll Face Inter in 2013
It doesn't matter who you support, where you're from or how old you are—it's tough to forget how badly Gareth Bale slaughtered Internazionale in 2010, such was the brilliance of the Welshman.
The video above represents a beautiful illustration of both of Bale's wonderful evenings against the Nerazzuri. In the first, with the game looking lost, Bale beat an aging Javier Zanetti for pace down the left, sprinted 50 yards and fired in a low shot which gave Julio Cesar no chance.
With the scoreline 4-1, this was merely a consolation, but then he did it again. And again. Three shots from the left-hand side at an acute angle, three goals. A hat-trick for Bale and 4-3 scoreline to take back to White Hart Lane.
When the second leg kicked off, Bale picked up exactly where he left off. Maicon had the worst game of his life as Bale provided three assists from the left in a 3-1 victory.
Three years later, the two teams meet again.
But what differences are there this time around? How has this player changed since the purported £40 million bid (via The Guardian) was touted?
Immeasurably, is the answer.
Perhaps it's natural development, perhaps Harry Redknapp playing him on the right wasn't such a bad thing after all or perhaps he was always suited for this, but no one player in an Inter shirt will deal with the Welshman all game long.
He's been given a free role by Andre Villas-Boas, a license to go where he wants with a starting position of just behind the striker in a 4-4-1-1.
When he tormented Rafa Benitez's Inter he was a left-sider, and a great one too. Nowhere on earth would you find a player so adept at sending in accurate crosses or shots at top-end speed, but those believing that was his limit were wrong.
Despite his speed and ability in the wide areas, he's taken his game to the next level by moving inside.
He drops into pockets of space, he surges forward from deep and initiates attacks and even plays the role of trequartista by breaking the offside trap from deep.
Bale's assignment is flexible, and his role directly relates to how his side are doing in the game. If they're hemmed in, he filters back and helps; if they're on top he lurks in any number of dangerous positions.
Some were calling for Bale to be played as a striker. He's nearing that position now (whether that's due to his side lacking an in-form striker or not is unclear) and he's looking more unstoppable than ever.
Inter won't be quaking in their boots because it's a much-changed Nerazzuri side that rocks up to White Hart Lane. In fact, there's a good chance Zanetti may be the only player to turn under Andrea Stramaccioni on Thursday who faced the Welshman three years ago.
But while past memories won't haunt the opposition, fresh fear will descend as they ready themselves to face one of the most in-form players in the world.
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