Gareth Bale 'Has to Chew the Scenery' for Real Madrid, Says Santiago Solari

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2018

Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League group G football match Viktoria Plzen v Real Madrid in Plzen, Czech Republic on November 7, 2018. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
JOE KLAMAR/Getty Images

Real Madrid caretaker manager Santiago Solari has challenged Gareth Bale to "chew the scenery" for Los Blancos and replicate his performance against Viktoria Plzen whenever he is on the pitch.

Bale contributed a goal and an assist in the 5-0 win in that UEFA Champions League game, and Solari wants to see more of that.

"I've always liked Bale," he told the press. "He has the ability to play on the left, as a centre-forward, a playmaker and even as a left-back. He started his career there and can play there perfectly. Bale has to chew the scenery every time he plays, just like against Viktoria Plzen."

After he netted twice in the UEFA Champions League final in May—including a stunning overhead kick—and Cristiano Ronaldo left Real for Juventus in the summer, the stage was set for Bale to become the main man at the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, as ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan noted, he has struggled to do that:

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Big whistles around the Bernabeu for Bale - with Lucas V on instead. Idea that Bale would step up / out of Ronaldo's shadow not looking too good at moment.

The Welshman has offered up five goals and as many assists in 14 appearances this season, but his goal against Plzen was his first in eight matches.

Indeed, Tom Allnutt of the Agence France-Presse has kept track of his difficult spell:

Tom Allnutt @TomAllnuttAFP

Bale´s last 9 games for Real. He´s come off 7 times, 5 of them when Real needed a goal. 71, 0-0 Valladolid 77, 1-3 Barca 75, 2-0 Plzen FT, 1-2 Levante 80, 0-1 Alaves 46, 0-0 Atletico FT, 0-3 Sevilla 75, 1-1 Bilbao 73, 2-0 Roma

As a result of his struggles, Bale has been whistled by the Bernabeu at times this season, a reception he has been given by his own supporters on more than one occasion in his Real career.

The 29-year-old is a world-class performer on his day, and he's shown on plenty of occasions that he can be a difference-maker for Madrid. Solari is right to challenge him, though.

Bale's penchant for contributing on big occasions, like the Champions League final, is a highly useful one, particularly in cup competitions.

However, if he's to truly replace Ronaldo in the Spanish capital, he needs to be winning games for the team on a weekly basis.