Breaking down Gareth Bale’s incredible Champions League Final record

Real Madrid, Gareth Bale, Champions League (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Gareth Bale, Champions League (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) /

When you mention Gareth Bale you visualize exhilarating speed, explosiveness, and that sweet left foot. Few players can combine all these qualities with scoring tons of goals and that too in Champions League Finals. Real Madrid fans have truly been blessed to witness Garth Bale in full throttle in the past decade.

Real Madrid bought Gareth Bale for a whopping 100.8 million Euros in the summer of 2013 to make him the most expensive player ever. Since then he has had a tumultuous stay at the Spanish capital. Moments of euphoria have often been followed by the hollows of a never-ending cycle of injuries for Bale.

His fallout with Zidane was specifically a highlight of his career at Real Madrid. Ironically he won no less than three Champions League Finals under him scoring in two (including a penalty in 2016) of those.

His record in the Champions League is impeccable. Real Madrid often hailed as the kings of Europe had not won the competition since 2002. In came Gareth Frank Bale. The club embarked on an unprecedented run of 4 Champions League wins out of 5 during the period 2014-2018. It’s fair to say Bale proved to be the X-Factor for Real Madrid.

La Decima

In 2013-14 Bale was at the peak of his powers. He took the Champions League by storm scoring 6 goals and providing 4 assists during the course. Cut to 24th May and Real Madrid had just survived by the skin of their teeth courtesy of a header by Sergio Ramos on 92 minutes and 48 seconds against city rivals Atletico Madrid.

A Champions League Final loss in a derby and that too after a wait of 12 years would have left many hearts broken. Bale’s goal in the 110th minute ensured Real Madrid fans had the best night of their lives. An incredible Angel Di Maria run beating three defenders ended up with Bale header from a ricochet.

2016 and 2017 Finals

Another Champions League Final, another Madrid derby, another Ramos goal. It was Gareth Bale who headed the cross from Toni Kroos in the path of Ramos to open the scoring for Real Madrid in the 2016 Champions League Final in Milan. Bale played through the extra time and scored the third penalty in the shootout.

2017 Champions League Final was incidentally a homecoming for Garth Bale as the game was played on his home turf at Cardiff, wales against Juventus. The Welshman had a minimal impact on the game as he came off the bench in the 77th minute when Real Madrid had the game in its pocket with the scoreline reading 3-1.

Best goal in a Champions League final?

By 2018, Bale already had a fair share of fallouts with Zidane. He was no longer an automatic starter partly due to his injury struggles and partly due to Zidane’s preference for a false nine in Isco. But as they say, cometh the hour cometh the man.

The 2018 Champions League final in Kyiv was turning out to be a fiercely contested one against Liverpool. With the score tied at 1-1, Bale was brought in for Isco in the 61st minute. And the world watched one of the best individual performances in a Champions League final. Bale scored an incredible bicycle kick to give Real Madrid the lead. In the 83rd minute another Bale goal, a 40-yard strike sealed the deal. Three Champions League wins in a row delivered right there.

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Many Real Madrid fans have found it tough to adhere to Gareth Bale. He has often been chastised by fans for his injury struggles and inability to speak fluent Spanish. But that should never overshadow his heroics in the big European nights. He leaves Real Madrid with a formidable legacy. With the season entering its business end who knows Bale is gearing up for the last dance.