When Real Madrid signed Gareth Bale from Spurs, there were expectations that he along with Ronaldo and Benzema would prove to be that goal scoring threat that Madrid lacked. First season was all of that, where the arrival of Bale brought that potency to the Los Blancos attack that was missing for the past two decades. He brought that pace, that energy, that hunger for goal which was lacking in the Madrid attacking mix, and that was one of the reasons as to why Madrid managed to win the much awaited La Decima and a Copa Del Rey in his first season. Astonishingly, all of that was achieved without Bale having a pre-season with the Los Blancos due to injury problems.
When all of us thought that Bale would be more than just the success he proved in his first season come the second season, he could not live up to te hype. He had to face criticism from the Bernabeu faithful that one never deserves, but all of that was not unjustified. His stats over all throughout wasn’t the worst bit; it was his performance in the big matches that made sections of the fans and pundits turn against him.
However, during the same spell, his performance while playing for his national team Wales was at another level. OCTA stats suggest in detail that Bale’s performance were contrasting while playing for Madrid and Wales. Before last night’s match, Bale had an impressive 0.62 Goals per game while playing for Wales, which is nearly 50% better than what he produced for Madrid (0.42 Goals per game). His shots per game is nearly double while playing for the national team (4.87 shots per game) than that of Madrid (2.47). His dribbles are more than double when he is on national duty (4.25 per games), compared to while representing Los Blancos (1.98). The most interesting stat from OCTA was his passes per game, which actually decreased to 21.3 when he is representing Wales, which is nearly 5 passes short of when he plays for Real Madrid (26.1) per match. This last stat pretty much sums it up for why Bale is having a hard time adjusting at the Bernabeu.
All of those stats reveal that his performance declined significantly while playing for the all whites, which is rather surreal to believe considering the difference in quality two teams possess. As we look into the finer details, one thing that stands out is that Bale doesn’t get treated the same manner at Real Madrid, as he is being treated in the Wales dressing room, and that makes sense too. In Wales dressing room, he is the most highly accomplished player, playing in probably the biggest club in the world where he has won the Champions League & is being tipped to be the long term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo. But in Wales, he is their Cristiano Ronaldo already, he is their go to man, a role which he evidently seems to enjoy & he proved it last night again with a match winning performance against the star studded No. 2 ranked team in Belgium, and have virtually sealed Wales’s birth in the next year European Championship.
Another reason as to why Bale’s performance dipped in the last season was because of the noticeable absence of his former Spur’s mate Luka Modric, who was out for a good part of the season due to multiple injuries. Modric seems to be the one man out of all the Real Madrid players who understands what Bale is, given their time together at Spurs, and what quality he brings to this team, and that’s why Bale’s performance seems to rise to another level when Modric is playing. This is evident with the fact that Bale’s goals per game record when Modric was around in the 15 matches that they started together was 0.53, which is nearly double to when Modric didn’t start for Madrid (0.29 goals per game)
To conclude, one must admit that Gareth Bale is the sole reason as to why Wales are just inches away from reaching their first major tournament after more than five decades. His performance for Wales throughout these Euro Qualifiers once again re-emphasizes the fact that he belongs to the best in the business. Rafa Benitez, the newly appointed manager of Real Madrid was there last night as Bale outshone the likes of Hazard and others stars to take Wales home, and he would have been impressed by the Welshman performance last night. However, the real question is to see is if Benitez will be able to transform the Gareth Bale of Real Madrid into the same Gareth Bale of Wales, because if he would be able to achieve that, than Madrid are looking for a much brighter season ahead.
The article originally appeared on Playingfor90.com.