Predictably they counted the passes. Gareth Bale received 40 against Juventus on Wednesday night, according to Marca’s calculations.
It was not specified where he received the ball or if 40 was high or low in a semi-final when the team was chasing the game and should have been feeding one of its most likely match-winners at every opportunity.
One of the biggest problems Bale has encountered this season is that Real Madrid have not treated him like the big match-winner he proved himself to be in his first year.
Real Madrid 1 Juventus 1 player ratings
Real Madrid 1 Juventus 1 player ratings
1/22 REAL MADRID: Casillas 7
The Spaniard was excellent when called upon tonight and showed his experience to keep the back four composed as Juventus pressed for an away goal. Couldn’t do anything about the goal.
2/22 Carvajal 7
Carvajal was steady tonight and looked to get forward whenever he could to help the attacking cause. Provided great deliveries from wide positions.
3/22 Varane 7
The young centre back improved hugely from his dismal display in the first leg. He didn’t give Morata a moment’s peace and showed his potential on the big stage.
4/22 Ramos 7
Looked more comfortable in his familiar centre back position and held his own well against the in-form Tevez. Showed his importance at the heart of Madrid’s defence.
5/22 Marcelo 7
After a night to forget in Turin, Marcel was back to his best at the Bernebeu. Defensively sound but gave great support to Ronaldo on the left flank.
6/22 Isco 7
The young Spaniard showed his class tonight, pressing high on the Juventus midfield and finding space in front of the back four on a regular basis.
7/22 Kroos 7
As always, Kroos was assured on the ball and looked to get things going from deep. Finally filled the void left by Luka Modric in the midfield.
8/22 James 7
He may have gone down easily for the penalty but the Colombian was a nuisance in his favoured central midfield role. Found the gaps constantly.
9/22 Bale 6
Although he wasn’t at his majestic best, Bale showed some improvement on his first leg performance. Still seemed quiet and low on confidence though.
10/22 Benzema 7
Benzema showed Madrid what they were missing in the first leg; a focal point. Stretched the Juventus back four and linked up well with the midfield.
11/22 Ronaldo 7
Constantly tried to get Madrid going even if it didn’t come to fruition. Scored the first goal and but cut an incredibly frustrated figure in the second half.
12/22 JUVENTUS: Buffon 7
The Italian veteran had another vintage display tonight. Pulled off countless world class saves to keep Juventus in the tie.
13/22 Lichsteiner 7
The full back struggled to deal with Ronaldo defensively but showed his attacking prowess with some mazy runs down the flank.
14/22 Bonucci 6
Didn’t make a single tackle in the first half and it showed. The experienced defender was overrun in the second leg and should’ve been punished more often.
15/22 Chiellini 6
Ridiculous challenge on Rodriguez for the penalty but recovered well in the second half to give his side some sort of control.
16/22 Evra 6
Showed that he can still play at this level marking Bale out of the game for much of the second leg. Looks to be a key figure in the Juventus squad.
17/22 Marchisio 7
His industrious work ethic and perfectly timed runs from midfield made him a nuisance for the Madrid defence. Should’ve had a brace to himself.
18/22 Pirlo 6
Wasn’t at his best tonight but gave Juventus what they needed when holding onto their lead; composure in possession. Made up for his lack of legs with his positional intelligence.
19/22 Pogba 7
The Frenchman held his own at the Bernebeu and showed the world what he’s all about. Did his bit for his team’s defensive effort but didn’t show as much creative prowess as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him.
20/22 Vidal 7
Worked tirelessly in a trademark performance for the Chilean. Kept the ball well when others around him were feeling the pressure.
21/22 Tevez 8
The diminutive forward continues to take his game to another level. Led most of Juventus’s counter attacks even if he was more of a provider than a direct goal threat.
22/22 Morata 8
The ex-Madrid man played his part in both legs and tonight put the final nail in the holder’s coffin. Great finish under pressure.
He has been asked to dig in defensively and track runners. Last season Real were the best counter-attacking team in the world; this year Bale can no longer hover on the halfway line for the early pass because when Madrid break he is 10 yards deeper, as Carlo Ancelotti plays him wide right in a 4-4-2 instead of in a front three.
The Italian coach, banned from the touchline for the next two games so likely to have sat in the home dugout at the Bernabeu for the last time, has had to shuffle his pack. Xabi Alonso – now of Bayern Munich – had been the counterweight in Real’s attack-oriented midfield, and the incredible energy levels of Angel Di Maria, who was sold to Manchester United last summer, added another defensive element.
With a more vulnerable midfield three, Madrid have had to clip the wings of one of their forwards, and Bale has been the player to make the sacrifice. It’s not a situation that can last into next season.
Would he be tracking runners in a Manchester United shirt? No, because at Old Trafford he would be the team’s attacking focal point. If Real want to keep him, they have to use him that way. There was no need to pay £85m for a box-to-box wide midfielder.
Bale has still managed 13 goals and eight assists this season, and won the World Club Cup, scoring in the final.
The comments from his agent, Jonathan Barnett, last Sunday that he needs to be passed to more were a reflection of the player’s own frustration at being judged as the club’s record signing but not afforded the privileges due one.
And this isn’t about the prima donna who does not want to run. It is a question of where he is being asked to run and to what end. He ran from the halfway line in the last minute of last season’s Copa del Rey final with the ball at his feet and scored the winner. There is no shortage of willingness.
Ultimately, Cristiano Ronaldo may have to give a little more if Bale is to be a long-term success in Spain. Behind closed doors at the club’s Valdebebas training ground, he has been urged to do just that, but there has been little sign of it this season.
If Ronaldo works with him instead of against him, and if his shackles are removed, Bale believes he can become one of the world’s best. If he doesn’t do it at Madrid he will do it somewhere else – and there will be no shortage of takers.Reuse content