Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale Fire Early Warning to Real Madrid Rivals

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale Fire Early Warning to Real Madrid Rivals
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is, at the very least, a polarising figure. For some, his unrivaled extravagance aligns seamlessly with the essence of Los Blancos, while for others, his lavish tendencies represent everything that is wrong with the modern game.

Yet when Perez purchased Gareth Bale from Tottenham for a world-record £85 million, Tuesday night's show is precisely the sort he would have envisaged: a sumptuous, devastating partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo, a pair capable of mere flashes that render the identity of the opposition almost irrelevant. 

In the 30th minute of Real's UEFA Super Cup clash with Sevilla, the Portuguese gained possession just behind the halfway line. Flashing a pass across to the other flank, Ronaldo burst forward into the penalty area, giving Bale, who'd received the ball from James Rodriguez, the signal to deliver. 

On cue, the Welshman whipped a breathtaking ball across the goal mouth with his thumping left boot, finding the Ballon d'Or winner for a regulation tap in at the far post. 

In fewer than 10 seconds, Real's duo had dismantled Sevilla's entire structure—the very sort of lethal passage Perez had imagined.

It was an early warning sign for Real Madrid's continental rivals.

Clive Mason/Getty Images

If there had been a significant concern heading into the 2014-15 season amid another summer spending spree and the warm glow of La Decima, it was the potential for a somewhat sluggish start for the European champions.

Needing to integrate the newly acquired Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, there was a sense that Carlo Ancelotti's side might not have a sizzling Ronaldo to lean on in the early weeks of the transitional phase.

After looking sluggish in the Champions League final in May, the 29-year-old laboured through Portugal's campaign at the World Cup in Brazil, clearly hampered by injury. Surely Ronaldo, like his team, would need to steadily build into the new campaign. 

Based on Tuesday night's evidence, there'll be no such concern. He'll hit the ground running. 

Stu Forster/Getty Images

In Cardiff, every movement from the Portuguese was razor-like in its sharpness. 

In possession, the goalscoring phenom's footwork was at its dazzling best, as he threw aside suggestions of questionable fitness. His interplay with Bale and Karim Benzema had the rhythm you wouldn't typically expect until midseason. The turn of pace that has made him a tormentor of defenders looked to be there in abundance, too. 

If Real's European rivals had hoped for an underdone Ronaldo in the early stages of 2014-15, they would have been disheartened with what they saw in Wales. 

More threatening still is the chemistry developing between Los Blancos' alpha dog and Bale.

It must be remembered that the former Spurs star registered 22 goals and 17 assists in all competitions last term, doing so while being forced to adapt on the fly, robbed of a pre-season and enduring the difficulties of a switch in country, culture and language. 

In the International Champions Cup in the United States, the 25-year-old quickly showed that last season's feats were only a scratch on the surface, that significantly more was still to come.

In his hometown on Tuesday, Bale only reinforced that notion, providing a sublime assist, launching seven shots on goal and terrorising Sevilla left-back Fernando Navarro. 

With Bale on one side and Ronaldo on the other—both men seemingly in peak condition and exhibiting an ominous cohesion—Real's attack was menacingly potent for what was, in the bigger picture, a rather inconsequential outing. 

Clive Mason/Getty Images

It can't be ignored, of course, that Ancelotti's men will encounter an array of difficulties in the new season; Tuesday night's promising display not simply standing as a prelude to utter domination. 

Real Madrid, after all, are unquestionably the most hunted outfit in Europe, having captured a 10th continental crown. History suggests such a position makes defending a continental title extremely difficult.

Tinkering the system to accommodate new faces won't come without challenges, either. Should he depart, overcoming Angel Di Maria's absence will be awkward. Different men will stand in goal. Keeping Raphael Varane satisfied could prove tricky. Finding consistent room for Rodriguez, Kroos, Luka Modric, Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Isco and Asier Illarramendi will prove the same. 

But through it all, Los Blancos will still carry a near-unrivaled threat through Ronaldo and Bale, perhaps the most devastating pair in the game. 

That's a decisive advantage, with the duo's sparkling display against Sevilla on Tuesday serving as an early warning for Real's rivals. 

 

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