Gareth Bale Says He's More Excited to Play for Wales Than Real Madrid

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 15, 2019

CARDIFF, WALES - OCTOBER 13: Gareth Bale of Wales during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier between Wales and Croatia at Cardiff City Stadium on October 13, 2019 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Gareth Bale has said he gets "more excitement" playing for Wales than he does for Real Madrid, although he added he contributes as much as possible regardless of who he's representing.

The winger has recovered fitness in time for Wales' UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Hungary, leading to some criticism in Spain following his recent injury absence.

Bale has said he's more at ease playing with familiar faces in the Wales squad, even though the average profile of star is substantially lower than at the Bernabeu, per BBC Sport's Dafydd Pritchard:

"With Wales, I'm speaking my own language and feeling more comfortable. I definitely have a bit more excitement playing for Wales.

"I've been with most of the players, especially the older ones, since we were in the Under-17s. It's like playing with your mates down the park on a Sunday.

"But it still doesn't change what I give on the pitch. I always give 100 per cent wherever I am, and that's what I always strive to do."

Bale, 30, has endured negative press from the Spanish media since his arrival at Real in 2013. Marca's front page even dubbed his return to training as "A Miracle in Wales" because injury has prevented him from featuring for Los Blancos since October 5.

Real manager Zinedine Zidane explained prior to the international break that while Bale and team-mate James Rodriguez were not deemed match fit, that doesn't mean they're injured, per Agence France-Presse's Tom Allnutt:

Tom Allnutt @TomAllnuttAFP

Zidane: "They're not ready. They've done some things on the pitch but they're not available. If they haven't trained with their teammates they can't play. "I'm not saying they can or can't play for Colombia and Wales. They will have six days to see if they are fit enough."

Bale continued to say he laughs off a lot of the criticism he receives in the Spanish media, adding it's a matter of timing that he's fit to represent Wales before Real following his injury:

"I've tried to get back [to fitness] as quick as I can. If there had been a Real Madrid game this week, I would've been fit and training to play.

"Maybe to them [the Spanish media] it doesn't look great, but it's just a kind of coincidence that the national team comes around this week and I've returned to full training.

"If I'm fit, no matter where I am, I'm going to try and play, whether it be for Wales or Madrid. For me it was a no-brainer: if I'm fit to play then I'll give it my all."

Bale regained his place in Zidane's Real plans following a summer filled with uncertainty, scoring twice and recording one assist in his first three league appearances of the campaign.

However, his status at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu pales in comparison to the respect he holds in Ryan Giggs' squad. Bale has scored 33 times in 79 appearances for his country, is Wales' all-time leading scorer and spearheaded their charge to the UEFA Euro 2016 semi-finals, where they lost 2-0 to champions Portugal.

His record of 104 goals and 67 assists in 238 appearances for Real is nothing to be sniffed at, either.

Sky Sports Statto recently highlighted Real as the team for whom Bale has scored more goals than any other during his career by a wide margin:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

Gareth Bale goals breakdown; @realmadrid 104 ⚽ @SpursOfficial 55 ⚽ @FAWales 33 ⚽ @SouthamptonFC 5 ⚽ Total: 197 ⚽ Azerbaijan v @FAWales 📅 Tomorrow ⏰ 5pm 📺 @SkyFootball https://t.co/oBlXkA7GY8

Wales travel to the Bakcell Arena in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Saturday before they make a swift return to the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday, when they'll host Hungary in what looks to be a must-win match.

The Mirror's James Nursey noted Saturday's fixture is expected to be the first match in which Bale will start alongside fellow veteran Aaron Ramsey since Giggs took charge:

Mirror Football @MirrorFootball

"Ryan Giggs can look forward to having both Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey in his starting line-up for the first time in these qualifiers" @JamesNursey reports from Baku as Wales prepare for Azerbaijan ⬇️ https://t.co/B0YiT4fJd1

Zidane lost winger Marco Asensio to a serious knee injury during pre-season, but youngsters Vinicius Jr, 19, and Rodrygo Goes, 18, have stepped up to complement summer-signing Eden Hazard.

Wales sit fourth in Euro 2020 qualifying Group E—four points outside the top two with two matches remaining—and they're in need of a win in Baku to boost their chances of securing a spot.  


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