It hasn’t been a happy couple of months for Gareth Bale.
The Welshman has had to deal with transfer speculation, slipping down the Real Madrid pecking order and being jeered and whistled by his home fans during a few ineffectual displays.
Yet he’s actually quietly putting together a solid season, having scored twice and assisted three times heading into Tuesday’s crunch Champions League away tie against Borussia Dortmund.
He added to both counts on the night, scoring a wonderful volley and teeing up Cristiano Ronaldo as Madrid won 3-1 win in Germany, meaning he’s now been directly involved in more goals this season than any other Madrid player. Not bad for someone who’s supposedly underperforming.
Here’s an in-depth look at Bale’s performance against Dortmund.
Goals – 1
Assists – 1
Shots – 2
Dribbles – 0
Passes – 28
Key Passes – 2
Pass Accuracy – 86%
Touches – 42
Tuesday night’s performance was vintage Bale.
He popped up on either wing, making his trademark runs to beat Dortmund’s defenders with pure pace, and was smart with his distribution – including a perfectly-delivered cross for Ronaldo to run onto and finish. His defensive work rate was similarly excellent, and vital as the German side threatened Madrid’s rearguard quite often. And he was always available for the out ball for his defenders and midfielders.
Not to mention, he started it all with a wonderful volley to open the scoring.
18th min: Robin Van Persie made a habit of scoring goals like this. A clipped ball into the box, and the 28-year-old met it perfectly on the volley, timing it sweetly to almost caress the ball into the back of the net. It’s a goal that requires perfect technique and yet Bale’s finish was almost nonchalant.
49th min: Gareth Bale at his best. A perfectly-timed run behind the defence allowed him to run onto a through ball on the left wing, and then all he had to do was look up and find Ronaldo. Bale’s cross was placed at just the right place for Ronaldo to convert.
78th min: It was nearly a Bale special. Madrid counter-attacked at pace and a long ball allowed the former Tottenham ace to run at goal from the right. He was staring down Dortmund keeper Roman Burki, with a vintage goal almost guaranteed, but it took a well-timed sliding tackle from a recovering defender to snuff out the opportunity.
Our verdict: 8/10
Zinedine Zidane will be asking for more of the same from his Welsh winger. A goal and an assist is always a good performance, and Bale wasn’t far away from adding to the tally on either count.
The Real Madrid boo-boys have been out in full force to hound Bale back at home, but this was a magnificent display that hit back at the critics.