'Ball hog? Gareth Bale lives on goals': Pepe defends under fire Real Madrid forward

The Welshman has been criticised for his selfish style and has been out of form for the faltering Champions League holders

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The Independent Football

Pepe has defended Gareth Bale amid mounting criticism being heaped on the Welshman, much of it by Real Madrid's own fans.

The reigning Champions League holders scraped through to the quarter-finals of the competition on Tuesday, but only after a seven-goal encounter with Schalke that ended with the German side just one goal away from knocking Real Madrid out.

The Real fans were furious and Bale, who endured a poor evening at the Bernabeu, was whistled and booed in scenes becoming all too familiar to the former Tottenham player. 

While it is unfair to blame Bale for all of Real's recent woes, it cannot be denied that he appears to be struggling for form and confidence.

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Gareth Bale in action against Schalke

 

His travails have even prompted speculation he could be sold, with Manchester United among those paying close attention.

The 25-year-old, who barely made an impact in the 4-3 Champions League reverse at home to Schalke, has a chance to set things right when second-placed Real host Levante in La Liga on Sunday.

 

By the time the game kicks off, they could find themselves four points behind leaders Barcelona.

Barca leapfrogged their great rivals, who they host for the 'Clasico' on March 22, into top spot last weekend and play at Eibar on Saturday.

Real centre back Pepe defended Bale, who he described as "shy", in an interview with Spanish radio on Thursday.

"Ball hog? A forward lives on goals," the Portugal international said.

"When he gets into a position to score it's the instinct of the killer. If you put me in front of the goal I will shoot."

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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