Analyzing Gareth Bale's Performance vs. Barcelona

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 26, 2013

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 26:  Gareth Bale of Real Madrid CF reacts during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at Camp Nou stadium on October 26, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale made his El Clasico debut versus Barcelona Saturday, getting the start in the marquee La Liga clash, but he did not make much of a splash.

The versatile 24-year-old, who was a €100 million transfer acquisition for Real by way of Tottenham Hotspur, failed to score in the club's 2-1 loss at Camp Nou.

Bale wasn't the only marquee player making his debut in the renowned rivalry. Barcelona's prodigious forward Neymar also took the pitch for the first time in this matchup, stealing the spotlight from Bale by notching the first goal of the match in the 19th minute.

What was considered a dream deal for Bale has turned out to be a sour ordeal thus far at Real Madrid. FOX Soccer noticed that he was displeased with his play as he sat on the bench in the closing minutes:

Fans and analysts derided Bale in social media, labeling him as overrated and not worth the massive price paid to bring him over from the English Premier League.

The Daily Telegraph's Oliver Brown had some biting criticism for Bale when he was subbed out in the 61st minute for Karim Benzema:

Bale's touches were limited, as the Catalan defense completely neutralised him. In the 45th minute, Bale earned a yellow card in a studs-up collision with Barcelona defender Gerard Pique. It was not a good way to cap things off before the intermission.

At least on this day, Bale's detractors had a point. It was not his best effort by any stretch, and the fact that Neymar was able to upstage him in a match of this magnitude—especially since Neymar was brought to Camp Nou for a much smaller £48.6 million—makes matters even worse.

But this was a mere, brief glimpse into the future of El Clasico as Bale and Neymar gear up for their respective primes.

It should mark the first of many great battles, but Barcelona's Brazilian international clearly made a far stronger first impression Saturday.