Both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo had summers that will probably not be topped in their international careers, with Bale carrying on his excellent form in France into the opening day of La Liga with a fine brace against Real Sociedad.
With Ronaldo still sidelined from *that* tackle in the Euro 2016 Final from Dimitri Payet – which turned him into Portugal’s greatest ever manager – Bale was the one to lead Los Blancos to victory over the weekend. And this will become a recurring theme this season, as the Welshman looks set to be Real’s star man.
Bale was brilliant last term, helping Real to their 11th Champions League title. Although Ronaldo scored more goals, Bale was the spark making things happen before his calf problem set him back (again).
The figures that stand out are the key passes and dribbles-per-game. The Welshman can confidently say that before his injury struck, his output was more than his Portuguese co-star in two crucial areas for their respective positions. Furthermore, Real’s No.11 was far more efficient in his outlay than the No.7 – Ronaldo took 131 shots to reach the 16 goals mentioned above whereas Bale only needed 50 shots to reach 13.
Bale took that efficiency to France, with the statistics showing the Welshman nearly reached 60% for dribble completion in comparison to Ronaldo’s poor 20% succession rate.
Where the two really differ, is their temperaments as players. Everyone is fully aware of Ronaldo’s attitude and the regular BS he dishes out towards his colleagues, be it in a Portuguese or Real Madrid shirt…
…and if Bale wasn’t already liked more by his fellow players, then he certainly will be after you factor in his assists for last season.
In 13 more games last season, Ronaldo managed just one more assist than the Welshman. Bale contributes to Real Madrid with his selflessness, something every side values – and needs – in team sports.
Yes, the goals are in Ronaldo’s favour – and even though the no.7 played more games – it seems unlikely that Bale would have reached 35 goals. Yet, of these 35 goals, 12 came in three games against weaker opposition. On top of this, Ronaldo is the penalty-taker, which automatically gives him the upper-hand on his goal tally, even though he had a remarkably poor year from the spot.
One of Ronaldo’s main ‘weapons’ throughout his career has been his free-kick ability. However, in recent months, it seems as if he should hand that mantle over to Bale this season. The Welshman managed two goals from five attempts at Euro 2016. Albeit one of them coming from an awful mistake by Joe Hart. Yet, Ronaldo’s efficiency from set-pieces is again way off…
There is no doubt that Ronaldo has been one of the finest free-kick takers the beautiful game has seen, but recently his unique style of dip and swerve has lost its cutting-edge. In comparison, Bale seems to be coming into his prime from dead balls, giving further reason for the Welshman to take up set-piece duties.
With Ronaldo at 31 and Bale four years his junior at 27, this will be the season where Bale has that extra edge over his Real Madrid teammate. I’m sure Ronaldo will still be up in the top three of Europe’s top goalscorers, but the Los Blancos’ reliance on him will be drastically reduced. Bale, if he stays fit throughout the whole campaign, will be Real Madrid’s star man this coming campaign.