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Bale v Ronaldo: Which Real Madrid teammate has made biggest Euros impact?

| 06.07.2016

Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | July 5, 2016

Punters can forgive the media’s indulgence in billing the Euro 2016 semi-final that pits Portugal against Wales as a battle between Real Madrid forward colleagues Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Bale v Ronaldo: who’s the Real deal?

Despite promising performances from Portuguese prodigy Renato Sanches and the influence Aaron Ramsey has exerted for Chris Coleman’s crew at the tournament, it’s not those players everyone is talking about. In the latter’s case, it’s because the Arsenal and Dragons midfielder is banned.

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Who doesn’t love a blockbuster encounter with the respective countries reliant upon talismanic presences, who must put their club connections aside on international duty? Coleman has already made that latter point clear to his charge.

All this hype surrounding Bale v Ronaldo raises one salient question, however. Which Galactico from the Bernabeu has had the biggest impact on the Euros?

Coral’s stats boffins have got their heads together and drawn some interesting conclusions we thought you’d like hear about…

Ronaldo shooting at the double but less goals

Both men from Madrid have started all five of their countries’ Euro 2016 outings to date and earned one UEFA Man of the Match award each, but Navigators all-time top scorer and skipper Ronaldo (39) has effectively had twice as many efforts on goal as Bale (20).

Portugal v Iceland - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group F - Stade Geoffroy Guichard

Always ready to pull the trigger, it is clear Ronaldo’s lethal strikes are feared more by desperate defenders with him having seven times more attempts blocked than Bale at 14-2.

One thing that is striking – yes the pun is intended – is although Bale has only had half as many shots as Ronaldo, he’s managed to get a higher percentage on target: 65 to 25.6.

Just seven of Bale’s 20 attempts haven’t worked the keeper, as opposed to all but 10 of Ronaldo’s that have either been off target, hit the woodwork (8/1 to hit the frame of the goal again here) or seen bodies thrown at them.

Equal impact where it’s needed most

Some people often say the only stat that matters is goals. Bale is 3-2 up on Ronaldo in this regard and 4/1 to outscore the Portugal icon in the semi-final, but both players are tied for direct involvement in the net bulging one four apiece when you add assists into the bargain.

Two of Bale’s three goals have come from direct free-kicks, while Ronaldo has notably scored previous few from dead balls throughout his lengthy international career, which has contained more than twice as many caps (131-60) to date.

If you fancy either man to score straight from a free-kick, then take advantage of Coral’s fabulous 5/1 enhanced semi-final special, which you can stake up to €/£20 on.

You can also back Bale (10/1) and Ronaldo (12/1) individually to net a direct dead-ball, or to score from outside the box generally at 8/1 and 13/2 respectively.

Bale not a pass-master

Although possession and pass stats became en vogue because of Real’s El Clasico rivals Barcelona and their tiki taka tactics, applying how the other half live to these Los Blancos boys sheds some interesting light on things.

Considering how many attempts he’s had, punters could be forgiven for thinking what has often been said of Ronaldo; that he’s selfish. The number of passes he’s made, however, suggests otherwise.

Portugal v Iceland - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group F - Stade Geoffroy Guichard

Attempting to find teammates 159 times during the tournament so far, Ronaldo’s 89 per cent accuracy means he’s been successful in such endeavours 142 times.

Not only has Bale attempted fewer passes (144), but he’s got a considerably lower percentage of 76 with just 110 balls finding their mark. Maybe he’s the selfish player then, attempting on average three fewer passes per game than Ronaldo at 29 (28.8) to 32 (31.8).

Hungary and Croatia feel Ronaldo wrath

Which games have the two clubmates exerted the most influence over, though?

Ronaldo has only really turned it on during the last Group F encounter with Hungary, netting twice and setting up the other Portugal goal for Nani, and in extra-time when assisting Ricardo Quaresma’s winner over Croatia.

It may surprise you to learn that Ronaldo hasn’t been a match-winner for the Navigators during the tournament to date.

Then again, Portugal are yet to actually beat a team at Euro 2016 in 90 minutes, progressing from their pool with three draws and needing an additional half hour and penalties to negotiate their respective knockout phase ties so far.

Bale scoring first or last

Drawing first blood in his first couple of Euros outings in Group B with those free-kicks against Slovakia and England, meanwhile, was Bale.

He also had the final say versus Russia and created Gareth McAuley’s unfortunate own-goal that took the Dragons past Northern Ireland in the last 16.

Although quieter in his display against Belgium in the quarters, it is clear that Bale’s influence on proceedings has been far more spread out across the tournament than that of Ronaldo.

Conclusion: Bale the man to back

It is easier to explain that lower passing accuracy for Bale, who has demonstrated when making the decisive moment in the Home Nations derby with Northern Ireland his willingness to cross the ball from wide positions.

The days of Ronaldo getting chalk on his boots when he more often than not plays a proper striker are done, so he isn’t peeling off to the flanks in search of space so much.

We’ve taken all things into consideration, and thus reach the conclusion that Bale’s impact has been bigger than his Real rival at Euro 2016. All that remains is to wait and see whether Wales can pounce on Portugal’s inability to win in 90 minutes and bear out our research.


You’ll find more Euro 2016 features like this one in Coral’s dedicated section.

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Jamie Clark

Athletics aficionado, die-hard snooker fan and Crystal Palace supporter Jamie has written for Coral since February 2014 after spells with Soccerlens and the Press Association as a digital journalist and copywriter. A former East Midlands sports correspondent and Bwin tipster, he is a graduate of both the University of York and University of Sheffield, with a Masters in web journalism from the latter.