BALE IS BACK!
After an appalling showing against Schalke in mid-week, Real Madrid got their focus back on liga and turning things around with Clasico at the Camp Nou scheduled for next week. And Los Blancos did turn the style – just. Gareth Bale got both goals in the first half after being active from the very first minute. Cristiano Ronaldo, also involved in both goals, hit the post and ended the game with a look of resignation than frustration or sulk.
A few learnings from the game:
– Gareth Bale is back firing and amongst goals with a brace today. Some of the criticism aimed at him has been bizarre and above everything – undeserved. If the team produced little chances and if Bale was at the end of them with no goal coming from it, it isn’t entirely his fault. He’s trying to help the team and doing more than what others were. Anyway, today that changed completely. He almost scored a beauty in the very first minute and looked lively in winning the ball back too. He was in the right place at the right time to slot home the first and rather luckily got the second goal. Not just the goals, he bothered with set pieces too and could have scored or helped with more. But for now, two was enough and he deserved it.
– Cristiano Ronaldo’s attitude after the first goal surprised many. While Bale tucked the ball in, Cristiano was shown to be raising his hand asking if his attempt had gone over the line. To some this showed his desire for a goal that was his and not the team’s, even though they effectively mean the same thing at the end of the day. And to some, it was a sign that he was hungry for goals – plain and simple. Personally, it showed the first to me. Yes he’s someone who yarns to improve and score but not by clearly asking if it was a goal for you than a teammate who has just scored. As the game went on, his attitude felt off and the shoulders dropped. It clearly wasn’t his day.
– After playing roughly half an hour against Schalke and making his presence felt, Modric played 70 minutes against Levante. Yet again he proved how invaluable he is to our midfield. Without complicating matters, he goes about his job and does it effectively. He controlled the midfield even with Toni Kroos being rested and Lucas Silva teamed up well with him. The Croatian was involved in the first goal with his through ball and we saw few glimpses of the gorgeous side footed passes too.
– Keylor Navas got yet another rare start in the league but unfortunately for him, and fortunately for the team, he was barely tested. Levante for most part didn’t bother him one bit. When they did come forward in the second half, the defence helped out or the Levante attack misfired miserably. With such games, it is difficult to ascertain how Navas is fairing and his quality without getting enough games to show for it. In the post-match press conference, Ancelotti joked about being sure of the lineup for next week’s Clasico but for the goalkeeper even though on Saturday he had more or less confirmed that Iker would play in Barcelona irrespective of who plays against Levante. But, in football as they say, things change pretty quickly.
– To end with: some on the fans at the Bernabeu. It is almost discouraging to notice your own fans boo your name when announced. That was the reaction handed down to Casillas, Ancelotti and Bale before the game began. Even though they might be used to it by now, it is still a pretty pathetic thing to do. It gets worse when you get boo-ed after scoring two goals. That is what happened when the Bernabeu stadium announcer said that the second goal had gone down to Bale and not Cristiano. I would probably understand if Cristiano felt aggrieved but why does it bother the fans who got the goal as long as someone did? It is fair that there is some level of expectation from the players, the support staff and the club but these jeering acts are pathetic and make players feel more chastised than aim to improve.
UP NEXT: CLASICO!