Gareth Bale targeting 'dream' Champions League victory as Real Madrid winger wants to top Copa del Rey final-winning goal
Bale admits that the goal at the Mestalla has been his highlight of the season but says the squad are heading into the European Cup final against Atletico Madrid with confidence
Gareth Bale has admitted it would be a “dream” to lift the Champions League trophy ahead of the Lisbon showdown between Real Madrid and city rivals Atletico Madrid, where Bale could secure a Copa del Rey and European Cup double in his first season in Spain since his £86m transfer.
Bale has the chance to become a Champions League winner on 24 May in what will be the first ever European final to be contested by two teams from the same City, following Real’s perfectly constructed semi-final win over reigning champions Bayern Munich.
Having already scored the winning goal in the Copa del Rey, Bale knows that success later this month would cap a season that, despite the La Liga disappointment, has been a undoubted success for the world most expensive player.
Speaking in an Interview with BT Sport’s The Claire Balding Show, Bale revealed that he and his team-mates are preparing for the match with a lot of confidence, despite Atletico leading the way in the domestic league ahead of the final weekend of fixtures.
“Yes, it’s going to be very interesting,” said Bale. “I think it’s the first time it’s ever happened with one major city having two teams in the final but it’s going to be a difficult game.
“We know how well they’ve played this season and we know what we’re capable of so I think as long as we execute our game plan on the day then hopefully we do win and yes, I think we have a lot of confidence going into the game and something we’re looking forward to. Obviously it would be a dream if we lift the trophy.”
Bale’s incredible goal in the Copa del Rey final has been earmarked as the defining moment of his debut season in Spain, with the Wales international bursting from inside his own half, running off the pitch in order to overtake Barcelona defender Marc Bartra and sliding the ball beneath goalkeeper Jose Pinto sparking mass celebrations in Madrid.
The win was marked with an open-top bus parade as soon as the squad returned to Madrid, despite their arrival seeing the celebration begin about 4am local time. It was something that Bale has already highlighted when he looks back on the season as his favourite moment.
“I’d probably say so far it’s the highlight that sticks out for me, scoring the winning goal,” he added. “I just remember seeing I think Fabio [Coentrao] had the ball in the left back slot and I think there was a player in front of him and I had a bit of space in front of me, I knew there was a player right in front of me as well and after that it was kind of open pitch so as soon as I got the ball I knew I had to just knock it past him and I fancied myself in a one to one race against him.
Bale scored the winner in the 2-1 Copa del Rey final victory over Barcelona “He [Bartra] tried to get me off the pitch by a few metres but I knew if I got around him no matter what I’d be kind of slow on goal and bearing down on goal I had to take my time. I was looking for Karim [Benzema] to try and square it to him but I think [Javier] Mascherano kind of blocked the way and I’ve seen the keepers legs open and I just [totalled] it through him and that was that.
“I knew if I got around him which was possible, that I’d be in on goal and I was literally just concentrating on the ball. I didn’t even know how far I went off, I just kept going and going and knew there wasn’t long left and hopefully I could score and thankfully I did.”
He continued: “I knew if I got around him which was possible, that I’d be in on goal and I was literally just concentrating on the ball. I didn’t even know how far I went off, I just kept going and going and knew there wasn’t long left and hopefully I could score and thankfully I did.”
His rise to stardom has seen Bale constantly linked with one of Wales’ legendary midfielder’s Ryan Giggs, and stressed that although they only spent a year together in the national team before the Manchester United veteran retired from international football, he learnt a lot from the 40-year-old.
“We played together for a good year in Wales and had a few games together which was obviously nice to play with him and learn off him when I was that young, it was a great experience to have and one that I thoroughly enjoyed,” Bale said.
But unlike the majority of his team-mates, Bale won’t be going to Brazil for the World Cup given that Wales failed to qualify from Group A of the European qualification stages. While he admits he would love to be part of the tournament, the Wales international admits he will use to summer to rest and recover while many of his opponents continue to exert their energy in the hot climate of Brazil, and hopes to gain an advantage when the season begins.
“In my mind I think you just have to accept that sometimes we’re not as blessed as other countries with the size and stuff but I try and look at the positives,” he said. “I get a good eight or nine weeks rest when they all keep playing football and I can get myself ready and fresh for next season which is obviously another important season for us.”
“Gareth Bale was speaking on The Clare Balding Show, to see the full interview tune in to BT Sport 1 at 8pm on Thursday 15 May”
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