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Bale must swap Madrid pandering for Premier League comfort

| 19.02.2015

There is no denying that at Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo is the on-pitch boss. But last season it became clear that the global superstar wasn’t the only ingredient that Los Blancos needed to win important games.

In his debut season in Spain, the man who had taken Ronaldo’s world-record transfer fee accolade was proving himself to be a man for the big occasion.

Gareth Bale scored in both the Copa Del Rey final against Barcelona, then the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid, two of 22 goals he managed during the season to go along with 19 assists. In short, he was the perfect support act to Ronaldo’s headlining show.

That serenity hasn’t continued in the 2014/15 campaign, with Bale’s decisions to go for goal rather than pass to his alpha-teammate roundly booed by Real Madrid’s tempestuous fans.

As Los Blancos restarted their Champions League defence with a trip to Schalke in the round of 16 the effect such criticism has had on the Welshman was clear to see.

At this stage last year Bale played his part in ripping the Germans to shreds, but all too often this time around he chose to pass to CR7 when taking a shot at goal himself was easier. It led to a poor performance and a host of speculation in the Sky Sports studio post match.

Frank Lampard, Glenn Hoddle and Thierry Henry all wondered whether the former Tottenham Hotspur world-beater had shrivelled under the intense, if unfair, heat the Madrid culture had placed on him.

It wasn’t too long ago that the 45-cap international was linked to a Manchester United switch daily. Perhaps if these awkward interactions with his superior forward continue the 25-year-old will start to hanker for that move.

None of the Premier League’s big three would stifle Bale in the same way Madrid are currently, which would help him rediscover the verve that made him the most expensive player in the world in the first place.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.