Gareth Bale Fit for Barcelona and in Awe of Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid
Bale arrived as a second-half substitute in Madrid’s 2-1 Champions League win over Juventus on Wednesday, which came courtesy of a Ronaldo brace.
Now he says he can start the weekend Clasico, although the decision rests with boss Carlo Ancelotti, per Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail:
I have had a few minutes this week and had a good week’s training as well, I think I am fit enough (to face Barcelona) but it is up to the manager whether I play from the start or am on the bench.
Bale has had to stomach plenty of undesirable attention early in his Madrid adventure, largely caused by his immediate injury layoff—which has restricted him from paying back the reported £85 million summer transfer fee, per BBC Sport.
The former Spurs man had to stay silent while Madrid and Wales pointed the finger of blame at each other over Bale’s muscular injury, reported by ESPN FC, and his case has not been helped by a series of substandard Madrid performances.
It would be understandable for the player to be feeling uncomfortable in his new surroundings, particularly given that Madrid fans chanted Mesut Ozil’s name at Bale’s unveiling, but the Welshman insists he could not be happier.
I am enjoying everything about Real Madrid at the moment. Obviously it was disappointing getting the injury but that is behind me now and I just want to kick on and do the best for the team …
He (Ronaldo) has been absolutely amazing with me, he has given me a lot of confidence. He has been in the position before so he has been great with me, everyone has been great in the changing room and I felt very settled straight away and I’m just looking forward to kicking on now.
Madrid and Bale will hope that his return can free up space for Ronaldo to wreak havoc both domestically and in Europe this season.
Will Madrid win the Champions League this season?
Ronaldo has already scored 16 goals in all competitions, per ESPN FC, and his double against Juventus lifted him to third in the all-time Champions League goalscorers list—behind Lionel Messi and Raul—per Jenson's article.
However, those statistics should not mask the fact Madrid have not yet found the right balance this season.
They drew with Villarreal in Bale’s debut and then lost at home to rivals Atletico. The Spanish giants also needed two injury-time goals from Ronaldo to bail them out against Levante.
A fully fit Bale, in addition to the returning Xabi Alonso, will make a giant difference.
Without Alonso, Madrid struggle to transition quickly from defence to attack, allowing defenders time to get back and double up on Ronaldo.
Bale’s chief aim would be to provide a dual threat on the opposite flank to the Portuguese. Currently the classy Angel Di Maria operates from the right but has only contributed one goal in nine league appearances.
Bale bagged 30 goals for club and country last season, and it is that extra threat that can change the Madrid emphasis, ensuring they can penetrate either flank with mischief.
Currently Bale says he is thankful to Ronaldo for helping him settle in Madrid. But, come the end of the season, it may well be that the Portuguese has the greater reason to thank his teammate.
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