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Cristiano Ronaldo's departure is an opportunity for Gareth Bale

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Feature
523   //    13 Jul 2018, 13:06 IST

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final
Bale scoring a
worldie
against Liverpool in the Champions League final

When Gareth Bale was signed by Real Madrid in 2013, many questioned Los Blancos' decision to buy him at the price tag of €100 million, which made him the costliest footballer back then, surpassing Cristiano Ronaldo. The world was not surprised by the club's shopping spree, it had been their characteristic for almost a decade, but they certainly tagged Gareth Bale as 'overpriced'. He was certainly overpriced, but not overhyped and overrated.

It was the Copa Del Rey final-2014, Real Madrid were without Cristiano Ronaldo. Bale decided to rise to the occasion scoring a goal that I can bet no Madridista will ever forget. He received the ball on the halfway line and made one of the most iconic runs ever in the football history to give the title to the Royal whites. The prince of Real Madrid announced his arrival on the big stage in style.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Final - Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid - Estadio da Luiz
Football - UEFA Champions League - Final - Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid - Estadio da Luiz

A month later he scored against Atletico Madrid in Champions League final in the extra time to give Real Madrid lead after Sergio Ramos' minuto 92:48 miracle. His goal took Real Madrid to the coveted La-Decima, an achievement they had been longing for a decade.

Gareth Bale's performance dropped by quite much in the 2014-15 season at the Bernabeu based club for his critics to point out. His goal+assist per 90 minutes dropped from 1.13 in the 2013-14 season to 0.66 in the 2014-15 season.

The 2015-16 season saw a revitalised Gareth Bale making 23 league appearances and scoring 19 times. The following seasons were mostly plagued by injuries for the speedster and he fell out of favour to Isco who made the most of his opportunities to win over Zidane and the Real Madrid faithful.

He was pushed out of starting eleven and made substitute appearances mostly, even when he was fit. The lowest point in his career came when he was injured in the starting minutes of the 2016-17 season El-Classico after forcing an early return from injury.

But as they say, it's not about how many times you fall, it's about how many times you have risen from ashes to the top. Certainly, Gareth Bale has mastered this art. On 26th May 2018 the world saw the return of Gareth Bale to the main picture. He was chosen to start from the bench in an all-important Champions League final.

When it didn't seem to work, Zidane turned to him and he didn't disappoint. He showed he was still the same big match player after scoring one of the best ever final goals, maybe even one of the best goals ever that made people compare it to the magical volley of Zidane himself. He sealed the deal for Madrid with a long-range strike winning the coveted trophy a record 13th time for Madrid, all on his own.

He has been the commander for Wales, making them visible to world football. He has the leadership qualities, he's got speed, he has a monstrous leap and we don't even have to get started on his shooting! Moreover, he can now play on his desired left wing, without being in the shadow of one of the all-time greats.

With Sergio Ramos on their roster, the Real Madrid squad has no dearth of leadership. But there was something about Cristiano, the way he encouraged his team after they had conceded, the way players looked for him when in desperate need of a goal, and the way he most often than not delivered.

He's like that 'ex' Real Madrid fans are always going to miss( now I know how Manchester United fans would have felt). But now that he's moved on to a new challenge, Real Madrid await for Gareth Bale to take over!

We will have to wait and see if Gareth Bale delivers as he's always done or whether injuries will continue to keep us from Welsh magic! In these low times, every Madridista waits with crossed fingers to see what the future holds for them in the store.

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