Tottenham made London Bale’s stage; now it’s time for Real to follow suit.
- Bale was far better at the Euros than Ronaldo
For so many reasons as well. Yes, Ronaldo won the title and that will inevitably go some way to probably securing a fourth Player of the Year award but at the tournament, he was sporadic at best. He was infuriating and counterproductive at worst. Nobody had as many shots off target (17) or shots blocked (17) as the Portugal captain, which is put into painful comparison when looking at his teammate’s stats. Bale had 25 shots total, and his 16 on target is 4 more than Ronaldo, as well as more than anyone else in the tournament. In short, Bale’s shooting was more accurate than anyone else’s at the tournament who was regularly taking shots.
And whilst Ronaldo’s value in any side is the end product he (usually) provides, Bale’s was so much more than that to Wales. Surrounded by less talented teammates than his portuguese counterpart, Bale inspired a Wales team into becoming the most visually exciting team in the tournament, fuelled by a harmonious team ethic epitomised by Bale’s hard work and selflessness. His and Wales’ achievement in reaching the semi-finals in their first major tournament in half a century is arguably more impressive than what the all star cast of Ronaldo’s portugal achieved.
2) Bale produces more results
“La Decima”. The phantom title Real Madrid had been chasing for over a decade. The signing of Ronaldo in 2009 didn’t change an awful lot in this regard, with Europe’s most successful European Cup team going another 4 years barren. Cue Gareth Bale, and 2 titles in 3 years speaks for itself. Bale didn’t make the charts for Top Scorers or Top Assisters in this year’s competition, and yet still made the team of the tournament. It is a testament to the winning mentality Bale has brought to the Capital that he’s had such a huge impact on a team already brimming with stars who ought to have had the quality over the decade previous to win the title at least once.
3) Bale is a star for the biggest of stages
3 years. 5 trophies. 5 finals. 2 goals. 2 Assists.
And lest we forget, one of the finest goals in any final of any competition, ever.
4) He’s younger than Ronaldo
Ronaldo (31) is four years older than Bale. That not might seem like a massive difference, but if Bale’s arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu has shown anything, it’s that a lot can be achieved in that time. Ronaldo is now the elder statesmen of the Galacticos. Bale, Benzema, Rodriguez, Carvajal, Varane, Kroos; they’re all younger. And Real Madrid can’t afford not to gamble on their young stars, and here’s why. Barcelona are on the wane; despite their attacking triumvirate being more devastating than ever, their famous midfield is thinning and their defence is nonexistent. The limitlessly talented Griezmann heads an ever growing Atletico, themselves unlucky not to be crowned Champions League winners. Pep, Pogba, Mourinho, Conte, Zlatan… the list of stars heading to the Premier League is growing again, and that could signal a reversion to English dominance in Europe that Spain have basked in in recent years. Real need to evolve if they want to take advantage of this footballing transition period, and Bale is the perfect spearhead.
5) Bale is a team player
Go and type into google “Ronaldo angry” or “Ronaldo refuses” or “Ronaldo annoyed”. See what suggestions come up. Now do the same for Bale.
It’s well known Ronaldo is a selfish player – and why wouldn’t he be. The most talented, productive and efficient star in a team stars. But not any more. His antics of being annoyed at other teammates scoring instead of passing, or not celebrating with his teammates, is in stark contrast to the team oriented Gareth Bale. Look up how Bale celebrates Robson Kanu’s goal, or Ashley Williams’ goal, or Sam Vokes’ goal against Belgium. He looks even happier than when he scored against England. And why, you may ask, do Real Madrid need to ‘focus’ on a team player, when they can focus instead on an individual such as Ronaldo and still reap the benefits of Bale’s team oriented performance? Well, look at Barcelona. The most successful team of the 21st century. Messi is a magical dribbler and he has insane scoring stats. His real quality however, and it is the reason for Barca’s domination in recent years, is getting the best out of his and others’ immeasurable talents by weaving them together. He is, quietly and brilliantly, the ultimate team player, and Real Madrid should look to that framework, and to Gareth Bale, to provide success in years to follow.
By Joe Cohen