Gareth Bale Stepping Up for Real Madrid in Cristiano Ronaldo's Absence

Dan BrettContributor IIIFebruary 9, 2014

A match made in heaven: Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo
A match made in heaven: Gareth Bale and Cristiano RonaldoAngel Fernandez/Associated Press

Gareth Bale proved that Cristiano Ronaldo's absence in the Real Madrid team has not affected the side's chances of regaining the La Liga title.

The former Tottenham Hotspur winger started in Madrid's 4-2 win over Villarreal last weekend, scoring one and setting up another for Karim Benzema as La Madridista rose to the top of the league.

And Bale, who only joined the Spanish giants in the summer, has already had an impressive impact on his new employers—both with Ronaldo on the field and off of it.

This delightful chip from Bale opened the scoring at Santiago Bernabeu; a finish that shows the confidence of the Welsh midfielder at just 24 years of age and ability to overcome the £80 million price tag.

As discussed in my previous article on how Cristiano Ronaldo is helping to nurture Real's younger talents, the signs are clear that Bale is happy to learn from the Portuguese talisman—but also step up to the plate when needed.

Ronaldo missed the side's match against Champions League-chasing Villarreal, after being shown a red card against Athletic Bilbao after raising his hand to Bilbao captain Carlos Gurpegi and confronting Ander Iturraspe:

Madrid finished the match by dropping two points and valuable ground at the summit of La Liga, as the 10 men couldn't muster a goal after Ronaldo's dismissal, with Bale not in attendance after being ruled out through injury before kick-off.

But Bale made up for Ronaldo's absence back at the Bernabeu, taking to Instagram to show his delight at three points and return from injury:

However, that's not to say that Ronaldo is no longer needed by Real Madrid—far from it.

The winger has scored 22 league goals in just 21 appearances this season, adding to his nine goals in the UEFA Champions League, with eight assists across the board, per

In his last 14 league apperances, per, Ronaldo either scored one goal or provided one assist, with the exception of one match at Espanyol when the player was denied by goalkeeper Kiko Casilla on 11 attempts.

And despite missing the side's match against Villarreal, he returned to the starting line-up for the 3-0 Copa del Rey victory against rivals Atletico Madrid, tweeting of his delight:

The side play the reverse fixture against Atletico on 11 Feb. as they look to add to their three goals and, ultimately, reach the final to play either Barcelona or Real Sociedad—not to mention exact their revenge on Atletico after losing out to their fierce rivals in the final last year.

Fifteen matches remain in La Liga this season, and with Atletico, Barcelona, Sevilla, Sociedad, Espanyol and Valencia all still to play, Ronaldo's form and temperament must remain in check if they are to regain the title.

Plus, the small matter of continuing their run in the Champions League makes it all the more imperative that Ronaldo keeps his head (and his place on the pitch), and that the likes of Gareth Bale continue to flourish both in Ronaldo's presence and especially when he's not around.