Super Cup offers Bale first chance in post-Ronaldo Real world
Welshman is Real’s new talisman
This season’s UEFA Super Cup takes on a derby vibe when Real Madrid meet rivals Atletico Madrid in Tallin, Estonia.
Wednesday night’s clash at the 15,000 capacity Lillekula Stadium will give us our first proper glance at Real’s team following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus.
How do you replace Ronaldo?
New Los Blancos boss Julen Lopetegui has chosen not to directly replace Ronaldo.
The club were linked heavily with Paris Saint-Germain duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, plus Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.
But ultimately none have arrived yet, and it appears Lopetegui will be placing his faith, for this season at least, in Gareth Bale.
Can Bale become Real’s main man?
Bale is entering his sixth season in Madrid, but his Real career has been tumultuous to say the least.
He has frequently been the subject of great supporter angst, and under former boss Zinedine Zidane was thoroughly reduced to a supporting role.
But the statistics are impressive. Despite playing second-fiddle to Ronaldo for five seasons, the Wales captain has scored 88 goals in 189 appearances – including that sensational double in the Champions League final.
Patience might be about to pay off
Bale would have known when he joined Real for £85m in 2013 that it would take much to oust Ronaldo, but even he may not have envisaged it would take this long.
Ronnie’s ability to defy the aging process and remain a global force kept Bale in the shadows for almost six years, and the Welshman was seriously contemplating a move away from Madrid this summer.
It’s all change now, however. In pre-season Lopetegui has made Bale the main man, and the former Tottenham Hotspur star has impressed.
This might be Bale’s only chance
With Zidane and Ronaldo gone, this is Bale’s greatest chance yet to be Real’s talisman. And he must take it while he can.
Rumours of Neymar and Mbappe won’t die down, and if Bale struggles in his new role then rest assured a replacement will be all people talk of.
But the forward has shone time and time again with Real, Spurs and Wales that he is the man for the big occasion. Succeeding Ronaldo could be the biggest of them all.
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