Gareth Bale Can Defy Critics by Stepping Up to Replace Ronaldo for Real Madrid

Samuel Marsden@@samuelmarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2015

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, left, celebrates his goal with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, right, during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Getafe and Real Madrid at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

It could be a big week for Gareth Bale.

With Cristiano Ronaldo suspended for the next two matches following his red card against Cordoba, Real Madrid’s No. 11 has the chance to step into the Portuguese's immeasurably large shadow.

Real Sociedad are the visitors to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday—Sevilla are due on Wednesday—and given they've already beaten Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona this season, Los Blancos may not have it all their own way.

If Bale can fill the Ronaldo void, it would go some way to defying the criticism recently aimed at him.

On top of that, the Welshman will also be looking to get one over Scottish manager David Moyes—who revealed to The Sun on Friday he tried to sign Bale while he was Manchester United manager in the summer of 2013.

Given the fact, per Transfermarkt's stats, Bale has scored 36 goals in his 72 Madrid appearances and created 26 more, the jeers he has faced appear slightly unfair.

Miguel Morenatti/Associated Press

Abdeljalil Bounhar/Associated Press

The origins are from his failure to pass to Ronaldo when the two raced through in a match against Espanyol earlier this month—a match Carlo Ancelotti's side won 3-0.

Instead, he took a shot and missed.

It was reported at the time, per The Independent, that the home crowd in the Spanish capital were not impressed.

However, in an interview with Jose Ramon de la Morena on Cadena SER radio show El Larguero as reported by the Daily Mail's Rik Sharma, Bale insisted it hadn't caused any friction between the two players:

I don't know how much importance was given to it (by the media) but I'm sure people talk a lot about it. But it happens all the time on the football pitch in every team.

We didn't speak about it at all. What happens on the pitch stays on the pitch and there's nothing personal after.

Bale has been at the club for over 18 months now and considering he's still adapting to a new country, culture and language—he gave his El Larguero interview in English—his performances have been good.

Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

It's well known that he has been the man for the big occasion.

He's scored key goals in the Copa del Rey final, the Champions League final and the Club World Cup final.

This season he has notched 10 times in 16 La Liga appearances, but while he's not disliked, he's struggling to completely win over all sections of the Madrid supporters.

In the past he has proved able to step into Ronaldo’s shoes: Against Real Valladolid he scored a hat-trick and that goal against Barcelona in the Copa final at the Mestalla came with Madrid’s No. 7 watching from the stands.

At Tottenham he was regularly able to be the main man in the biggest games; that's why Madrid spent so much money on him.

Moyes' visit to the Bernabeu could prove the perfect antidote to soothe Bale's up-and-down relationship with the Madrid faithful.

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