Cristiano Ronaldo Proves Real Madrid Can Survive Without Gareth Bale vs. Bayern

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2014

Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice.
Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice.Andres Kudacki

Some believe Real Madrid are better with only one rather than both of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo in the side, and the club's victory over Osasuna has just added to the evidence.

Beating Javi Gracia's lowly side, who lie 16th in La Liga after their 4-0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu, does not prove anything within itself.

But it is the latest in a string of matches in which Los Blancos have been better when one of the super attacking duo is missing.

Some say Madrid are stronger without Bale and Ronaldo in the same team.
Some say Madrid are stronger without Bale and Ronaldo in the same team.Paul White

In this game Ronaldo scored two brilliant, almost identical goals before Carlo Ancelotti decided to replace him in the 61st minute with Casemiro.

The Italian was, of course, thinking about the Bayern Munich clash on Tuesday night and Ronaldo's recent injury problems.

Ronaldo didn't even play at his highest level as he comes back from injury, but he still put Osasuna to the sword with consummate ease.

It took just six minutes in the first half for the Portugal star to open the scoring, firing over the goalkeeper from the left.

And after seven minutes of the second period, he repeated the trick, this time fizzing it into the top-right corner.

Of course, Madrid didn't splash millions of pounds on Bale to have him play second fiddle to Ronaldo.

And by systematically destroying virtually every team he comes across, Ronaldo has done enough to demand a starting place in any game he chooses.

However, sometimes it's better to be clever than to try to please everybody.

In games like this, against Osasuna, if Bale had played, Madrid may have done even better.

On target: Ronaldo is set to start against Bayern.
On target: Ronaldo is set to start against Bayern.Andres Kudacki

But against Bayern Munich last Wednesday, although both players took part, they weren't on the pitch at the same time and Madrid came away with the result they wanted.

Neither are particularly diligent defensively, although of the two, Bale can offer more as he used to be a left-back at Tottenham and Southampton.

If anything, Madrid were actually still carrying some dead weight in that game in the form of Isco.

The playmaker has been impressive this season and is a fine talent, with plenty more potential.

But in the type of game Madrid played against Bayern Munich, he could not help in defence and offered little in attack because he is not dynamic enough to play on the break in the fashion his side wanted.

Just one of Bale or Ronaldo would be enough, and with the former missing the game against Osasuna on Saturday, that might be what Madrid end up with.

And it would be enough—with Madrid trying to protect their slim lead, even if both were fit and available, Ancelotti might be tempted to keep one in reserve.

Madrid-based newspaper Marca say that Ancelotti was wrapping the Welsh superstar in cotton wool ahead of the game.

Tough choice: Carlo Ancelotti has the ball in his court.
Tough choice: Carlo Ancelotti has the ball in his court.Gabriel Pecot

Bale’s team could still need him if Bayern score and Madrid need to net an away goal.

But the dual assault of Bale and Ronaldo is more suited to whoever Real will face in the Champions League final, should they progress.

Neither Atletico Madrid nor Chelsea tend to show much ambition when playing against opponents who like the ball and have several attacking outlets.

Then, the likes of Bale, Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria would be essential in unlocking regimented, organised defences.

But we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves.

For Bale and Ronaldo to take on anybody in the final, first Madrid have to negotiate what will be a fiery trip to the Allianz Arena.

And it may be for their greater good that one of them sits on the bench instead of starting the game.