Gareth Bale is Real Madrid’s best option at RW and should start vs. PSG

Real Madrid, Gareth Bale (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Gareth Bale (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid might be very disappointed with the result in Castellon, as the club drew 0-0 with Villarreal at the Estadio La Ceramica. But there are a few positives that we can take away from this match, and one such positive is the return of Gareth Bale into action. He played his first game for Real Madrid since the 29th of August, 2021, and had his own share of some positive moments.

People might be surprised by looking at the word “positive” and Bale in the same sentence today, as Bale missed three goalscoring chances, and was merely a passenger in most parts of the game. He had just 19 touches during the game and wasn’t involved a lot in the attacking build-up. He mostly stayed central, keeping Villarreal’s defenders busy, and wasn’t really able to work any magic with his back facing the goal.

But his off-the-ball movement was perfect, and he got into three clear-cut goalscoring situations due to his pace, intelligence and perfect movement. His left foot still seemed to be threatening the opposition defenders, and he also hit the crossbar with a powerful curling shot from his left foot.

Well, we can blame Bale for the draw today and point fingers at him for missing three good chances. Yes, Bale couldn’t finish properly, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that we got into such dangerous positions. His goal threat increased two folds when he drifted towards the right, which enabled him to make diagonal runs off the defenders’ shoulder and shoot with his stronger foot from better positions. And after watching him play all these years, we do know that he can finish such chances nine out of ten times.

Real Madrid, Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale of Real Madrid (Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images) /

Gareth Bale is a proven scoring threat with a Champions League pedigree

Marco Asensio and Rodrygo Goes have been Real Madrid’s two main right-wing options this season, and those two have got a lot of minutes this season due to Bale’s injury issues. Asensio did score a handful of important goals this season, but none of them has been able to be the consistent goal threat Bale has been, over the years.

Bale might not be defensively as hardworking as them now, and he might be short of match practice, but today’s performance just reminds everyone that he is still the Gareth Bale we know, though a little older and slower. People had their own doubts about his abilities after a disappointing 2019/20 season, but an excellent 2020/21 season on loan at Spurs, where he scored 16 goals and had 3 assists, put a full stop to all the question marks.

Bale is in his final season at Real Madrid, and he might not be a long-term project, but it would completely make sense to rely on a proven player under contract, for big games like these. He has that goal threat, which gives him the edge over Asensio and Rodrygo, and he still has the ability to change the result of such games with a moment of individual brilliance.

But Bale needs to be wary of a few things if he wants to start against PSG because Dani Carvajal would want some support from his winger while defending Mbappe and Nuno Mendes. Maybe starting a workhorse like Fede Valverde can help the team defensively, but even Bale should put in a shift in the defensive third at Parc des Princes.

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It might be the biggest game of the season so far, and Carlo Ancelotti will have to consider a lot of factors before choosing his starting XI, especially when Benzema and Mendy’s availability isn’t guaranteed. But Ancelotti should trust the experience of the Welshman for once, and be optimistic after today’s performance. Don Carlo didn’t reveal if Bale might start against PSG, but he did mention in the post-match press conference that Bale repaid his faith in him, which is a hugely positive sign for the 32-year-old.