Real Madrid 0-2 Real Betis: A tragic ending on the bench for Gareth Bale

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Zinedine Zidane

Loren Moron and Jese teamed up to hand Real Betis a famous victory at the Bernabeu as Real Madrid’s disappointing season ended in embarrassment.

Moron’s 61st-minute strike and a second from Jese with quarter of an hour remaining secured a deserved 2-0 win for the visitors as they secured away wins at Real and Barcelona in a single season for the first time in their history.

It arrived on a day when Gareth Bale did not make it off the bench amid continuing speculation that he could be one of the casualties of a major overhaul by Zinedine Zidane this summer.

Bale, understandably, is the subject of our first talking point.


Real Madrid's Gareth Bale

Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale

It’s hard to picture a more tragic ending. At least Romeo and Juliet died with love in their hearts, Real Madrid’s is just overwhelmingly black.

The sadness begins with Zidane. His decision to impart one last dose of humiliation upon Bale was genuinely miserable.

To not start the Welshman in what is by all accounts his final game for Los Blancos in a completely pointless contest with Betis was petty enough.

To not even bring him on at all is borderline abhorrent.

There’s been plenty said and written about Bale during his Madrid career and in truth, not much of it is his fault.

Can he really be blamed for not impersonating Cristiano Ronaldo? Should Bale be despised for a career blighted by injuries?

If we’re playing the blame game, how about apportioning ‘blame’ for Real’s success instead?

From the La Decima winning header, that Copa del Rey final sprint and of course, the greatest Champions League final goal in the competition’s history last season.

There’s an understanding that he doesn’t warrant status as the club’s highest-earning star.

Yet it is simply cruel to treat a player who has achieved so much success worthy of celebration, in such a cold way.

There should be appreciation for what he has done, not what he could have been.


Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane

Bale’s arrival might have served as some good PR for Zidane because he surely needs it right now.

The Bernabeu has quite the song sheet but these days there’s only a chorus of whistling on loop.

They were deafening when Betis went 2-0 up and then Lucas Vazquez arrived as the final substitution.

Zidane may have returned to the club with nothing left to play for, but the fact this team has played in exactly that fashion is very disconcerting.

Indeed, this was billed as a farewell for Bale and goalkeeper Keylor Navas, but to be honest, they won’t be alone on the evidence of recent weeks.

Marcelo has the ability to make fans laugh and cry, usually in separate instances, but when he wandered into a centre-forward position with 10 minutes left, supporters probably felt both emotions concurrently.

If he’s starting next season, Real have a problem. Luka Modric has endured an exhausting campaign but was still tracking back on Sunday to cover for the disappearance of the Brazilian.

Marco Asensio rose from the bench to failed to rouse any trust in his ability to make an impact. Karim Benzema has been the best of a bad bunch but maddeningly missed opportunities as he can be prone to doing.

Raphael Varane didn’t look particularly interested in defending Andres Guardado as the Betis midfielder comfortably found Moron for the opener.

Even Vinicius Jr. must mature quickly if this team is to be shaped around his raw talent.

The imminent transfers of Luka Jovic and Eden Hazard, maybe another midfielder, plus the already-acquired Eder Militao will mean changes are guaranteed.

Zidane has a huge job on his hands to oversee the necessary alterations.


Junior Firpo

Junior Firpo

There’s the mitigating factor of Vinicius only just returning from a length injury spell so his inefficiency in front of goal can be forgiven.

But although one Junior didn’t particularly impress, another certainly did.

Betis’ left-back/wing-back Junior Firpo has enjoyed a breakout campaign.

The 22-year-old will be in high demand this summer – even Real are reportedly interested – and while the world watch Madrid self-combust, he lit up the Bernabeu.

Evidence of this was in Betis’ second after he roasted Dani Carvajal with an intelligent run inside full-back and centre-back before intelligently cutting the ball to Jese.

He offered creativity, bags of energy and natural piercing pace – all the hallmarks of a modern full-back.

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