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

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
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.

BALE DOESN’T SAY GOODBYE

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.

BIG JOB ON ZIDANE’S HANDS

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.

ONE JUNIOR DOES IMPRESS

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.

Recommended

Most popular

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema wants to keep playing at 'the best club in the world'

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema virtually ruled out a return to France at a later stage in his career in a wide-ranging interview in which he also discussed his continued absence from the national team.

Real Madrid signed the striker from Lyon, where he had won four Ligue 1 titles, in 2009, for an initial fee of £30million. Since then he has become the club’s fourth-highest all-time scorer, trailing only Cristiano Ronaldo – who joined the same summer as Benzema – Raul, and Alfredo di Stefano.

Though a dip in form last year prompted speculation that he could leave Madrid, he has bounced back this season to score 30 goals, and his 21 league goals are enough to put him joint-second in La Liga’s scoring charts for the season with one game left to play.

That return to form has put all talk of a move to rest, and even though Los Blancos are set to sign a striker this summer it will be to complement Benzema rather than immediately replace him, as the 31-year-old has been Madrid’s only consistent scorer this season.

And Benzema wants to continue to play at “the best club in the world” instead of entertain talk of a return to his home country.

“Come back to play in France? I am in the best club in the world,” he said on French TV show Quotidien. “It’s hard, I always want to play at the highest level.

Benzema has not played for France since 2015.

Benzema has not played for France since 2015.

“In France, I only have Olympique Lyonnais in my heart, where I left such a great image. I would love to leave it as such. At this moment, the answer is no.”

Despite his success at Madrid – he has won four Champions League titles and two La Liga triumphs during a glittering decade in the capital, in a total haul of 17 trophies – Benzema has been in exile from the French national team following a dispute over his supposed involvement in the alleged extortion of former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

His last appearance for France came in 2015, meaning he missed out as the team won the World Cup last summer – but Benzema insists he has no regrets.

“The French national team has a new group — a new generation. They are world champions. It is what it is and it must be respected,” he said.

“I saw the final in Lyon at my mom’s house — with my family. Because I’m close to (Madrid team-mate Raphael) Varane I was happy.

“I would have loved to be there, which is normal for any footballer passionate for the game.

“I’ve had my great moments in Real Madrid, but it’s also good that they [France] won this World Cup. I don’t have a single regret.”

Most popular

Related Sections

Gareth Bale gearing up for potentially his final match with Real Madrid

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Gareth Bale returns to the Real Madrid fold for Sunday’s season finale against Real Betis but Zinedine Zidane admits he does not know if it will be the Welshman’s final game for the club.

Bale has been absent since last month’s defeat to local rivals Rayo Vallecano but coach Zidane has confirmed the 29-year-old will be back in the squad for the visit of Betis.

With speculation rife that Bale’s six-year stay in Spain could be about to end, the match may well be the last time he is seen in Madrid colours.

Zidane refused to speculate about what the summer might hold for the club’s record signing, though, saying: “He’ll be part of the squad tomorrow and that’s all I can tell you.

“You’ll see the team that we put out. I don’t know whether this will be his last game.

“We’re at the end of the season and next year there’ll be changes, but I don’t know whether this will be his last game or not”.

Bale is not the only Madrid player whose future is uncertain as the Spanish giants lick their wounds after a campaign which, aside from winning the FIFA Club World Cup in December, has been a huge disappointment.

The likes of Keylor Navas, Toni Kroos and Isco have been linked with moves away as Madrid look to regroup after failing to mount a genuine La Liga title challenge or reach either the Champions League or Copa del Rey finals.

The 13-time European champions have already lost 11 times in La Liga this season – their worst record this millennium – and are certain to finish third, well behind arch-rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.


It has been a tough time for a club used to winning silverware and Zidane, who became the team’s third coach of the season when he returned to the helm in March, is now hoping his side can at least finish on a positive note.

The Frenchman told his pre-match press conference as reported by the Spanish media: “We want to sign off with a good performance and a win in front of our fans.

“They always win a lot of things here, and it’s very difficult when you’re not playing for anything, but we want to have a good game against a good Betis side who will also want to finish the season well.”

Betis travel to the capital knowing a victory would guarantee them at least 10th place in the table.


They claimed a 1-0 win on their last to visit to the Bernabeu, Antonio Sanabria netting a dramatic late winner in September 2017, and coach Quique Setien is hoping for something similar this weekend.

He said on his club’s website: “It’s a very important game for us because it could allow us to gain a place in the table and leave a good memory at the end of the season at such a difficult stadium.”

Most popular