Neymar vs. Gareth Bale: Statistical Comparison of Their First La Liga Season

Jack WatsonFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2014


Gareth Bale and Neymar are coming to the end of their first seasons in Spain. Both fetched a combined transfer fee of around £160 million, so a lot was expected of the pair. 

Bale moved to Real Madrid for a world record fee of £86m while Neymar moved to Barcelona for a comparable fee of (€86.2 million). 

Both attackers are fantastic, have a lot of potential and will go head-to-head at the weekend as Barcelona travel to the Bernabeu. So who has had the better first season in La Liga?

Using Squawka's Comparison Matrix, let's find out.



The most important aspect for an attacking player is the number of goals he can score. Bale and Neymar were both excellent in front of goal for their previous clubs; the Welshman almost won the Golden Boot in the Premier League for Tottenham last season as he scored 21 goals. 

Neymar was no different, scoring 13 goals in 23 appearances in his final season for Santos but 43 goals in 47 games the season prior to that.

Bale has not been as effective or important as he was for Spurs last season but has still scored 10 goals in 20 La Liga appearances for Madrid. Neymar, on the other hand, has scored seven in 20. 

Bale vs Neymar Goals Comparison
Bale vs Neymar Goals

The Welshman has averaged 0.62 goals per 90 minutes, while Neymar has averaged 0.45.

They have both hit a similar amount of shots, too, with Bale averaging 3.57 per 90 minutes compared to Neymar's 3.31. So, a slight difference in shooting has brought a slight difference in goals scored.

Both players would have hoped to score more goals, but they also have either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to supply, so that takes us nicely onto chance creation. 


Chance Creation

Another hallmark of a top quality attacking player is the quantity and quality of chances they create. 

So far, after both playing 20 La Liga games, Neymar has created the most of the pair. His 34 chances beat Bale's figure of 27, but there is a lot more to it than that.

If we look at the number of successful passes both players have made, you can see why Neymar has created more. The Brazilian has completed 655 passes in his 20 La Liga matches, a lot more than the 327 of Bale. 

Bale vs Neymar Chance Creation Comparison
Bale vs Neymar Chance Creation

Barcelona play a more possession-focused style of play where Neymar is likely to get the ball a lot, whereas Bale picks the ball up and runs at defenders, committing players and starting attacks. It's not as patient at Real Madrid as it is at the Camp Nou.

Neymar averages a created chance with every 19 successful passes. Bale, though, creates a chance every 14 successful passes—a true indication of how often they create given their time on the ball. 

However, per 90 minutes, Neymar towers above his Welsh opponent, averaging 2.2 created chances on average, while Bale has managed just 1.66 per 90 minutes this season.

Despite this, Bale has actually assisted more goals than Neymar. Is that down to him playing with Ronaldo, who's been in astonishing form all season? Probably, but his 11 assists to Neymar's eight from fewer created chances would suggest that he creates a higher quality of chance. 

It is quality over quantity for Bale. While Neymar receives the ball an awful lot more, you can see that Bale can use it more effectively to create goals.


On the Ball

Neymar and Bale are both widely known for their ability to attack with the ball at their feet and commit defenders into fouling them. Their dribbling abilities are phenomenal and are what makes them so exciting.

While Neymar is the skillful exquisite dribbler, Bale is the powerhouse speed merchant, with added skill. If they were both on the same side, it would be impossible to defend against.

Neymar is more skillful and has beaten more opponents with the ball at his feet, succeeding with 62 of his take-ons, while Bale has successfully completed just 35. 

Neymar take-ons vs Almeria
Neymar take-ons vs

Quite a big difference, right? That can be explained, as Bale has actually completed a higher percentage of his take-ons: 47.3 percent, while Neymar has completed 46.9 percent of his. A very narrow and close margin between the pair but it is quite evident that Bale—while attempting a lot less—is more successful than Neymar who attempts a lot more.

Again, it's a case of quality over quantity from Bale.

The Welshman has not been fouled anywhere near as much as his opponent on Sunday, though. Surprisingly, he has suffered just 13 fouls in 20 La Liga matches. Neymar, however, has been fouled 60 times—averaging 3.89 fouls suffered per 90 minutes.

Bale has averaged just 0.89 every 90 minutes. It's quite a striking difference in figures but again shows that Neymar attempts far more take-ons and dribbles than Bale.



Both players have had decent seasons. Bale has steadily grown in stature at the Bernabeu and is set for a raucous final few weeks of an enthralling season—with manager Carlo Ancelotti of the opinion that Bale is in peak form.

According to Sky Sports, Ancelotti said: "He is in really good condition and we are very happy with him. He had some problems at the start of the season but now he is looking good and we hope that will continue until the end of the season."

Neymar, on the other hand, has been quite steady with the odd flash of brilliance.

Bale scored a hat-trick in La Liga while Neymar grabbed one in the Champions League; the Brazlian's first season in Europe has been one to admire. We could see a more devastating Neymar next season when he's a little more used to Spain.

Real Madrid's Welshman could also be stunning next season. He took a little bit of time to adapt to Spain but has turned into an undroppable forward for Ancelotti. His creation for Ronaldo, as well as his goal-scoring, is improving by the week, and he is set for an enormous few weeks as Madrid strive for trophies on all fronts.

It is difficult to separate the two players, but the figures suggest that Bale has had a much more productive season. While Neymar has created more chances and completed more passes, it is Bale who creates a higher quality of chance. He's also scored more goals and completes a higher percentage of take-ons—something invaluable to a winger constantly on the front foot.

With Bale and Ronaldo growing by the week and Neymar and Messi also improving, next season could be absolutely spectacular in Spain.


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