When Real Madrid signed him back in 2013, Gareth Bale was dubbed to be the torchbearer of one Cristiano Ronaldo once the mercurial Portuguese leaves or retires at the club.
Despite numerous injuries, Bale hasn’t had to shoulder the responsibilities of spearheading Real’s attacks. But now that Ronaldo has left Real to join Juventus and Real hasn’t signed any big money forwards, it is indeed the Welsh speedster who is the main goal threat for Real. But so far this season, he hasn’t lived up to the massive expectations set for him. FOX Sports Asia expresses exactly why Real need Bale to step up to the plate more than ever now.
In their UEFA Champions League game against Viktoria Plzen, Bale completed 200 games for Real Madrid. The stats tell that he has found the net 92 times in this term, roughly averaging one goal every two games. Quite an impressive feat for any other forward in the world, these stats do not prove that Real have got their money worth on Bale. After all, the world’s first ever ‘Hundred million euro man’ cannot be pleased with the stats of an average forward. And certainly, the club will not be impressed as well. Bale had one foot out of Real Madrid as recently as until the Champions League final against Liverpool last season. But coming on as a substitute with the scores level, Bale scored two brilliant goals to steer Real to an unprecedented 13th Champions League triumph. And with that, Real’s plans of offloading him went away. And it was helped a lot when Ronaldo left to join Juventus.
— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) October 24, 2018
But when Julen Lopetegui joined Real, doubts over Bale’s future at Real were cast again. A coach who does not quite go hand in hand with wing play and prefers attacking through the midfield, many thought Bale would indeed be leaving the Spanish capital. But Lopetegui had other ideas. He convinced Bale that he would be the face of the club in this post-Ronaldo era. And that has indeed been the case. From the pre-season matches to even last night, Bale was the one through whom Real’s every attack went. But Bale has not been up for the task as it seems.
So far this season, The Welshman has scored just 3 goals. Many hold Bale’s poor form in front of goal as one of the main reasons for Real’s inability to score this season like their old usual selves. But, to put into context, he scored the same amount of goals last season. But the major difference is that last season Real had Ronaldo for the goals. The team was in form, playing some flowing football with goals, not a concern. But this season is an entirely different ball game for The Whites. They have lost the inspiring figures of Ronaldo and Zidane. With no big money signings coming in and Real’s stubbornness to retain the squad has come back to haunt them. The fear factor of facing Real Madrid is long gone from the mindsets of their oppositions. In attack, Bale looks like a player quite unclear of his responsibilities. He is seen changing up wings, gliding across the field according to his convenience but in front of goal, Bale looks like a confused man. He is almost too shy to shoot, trying not to come out as selfish.
This is the guy we bought, I don’t know where the current incompetent cave man came from! pic.twitter.com/RkgP5uiIy0
— Joe Adonis (@AdonisJoe1) October 24, 2018
There has been plenty of instances this season when Bale was urged to shoot by the fans, but to their utter despair; The Welshman opted to pass the ball. Bale knew he would be the leader in attack for Real if they don’t sign anyone to replace Ronaldo. But despite all of that, Bale hasn’t been the leader that Real Madrid expected him to be. He has not even been his usual self. With the win last night, Real have put an end to the awful form for the past month or so. Now, they would be looking forward to going upwards and onwards For that to happen, Real need their forwards to be scoring goals on a more frequent basis. They need Bale to be in form more than ever now. And that is exactly why Bale has to step up and fire in all cylinders before the seasons goes beyond repair for the European Champions.