Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale is set to start against Barcelona in a must-win El Clasico this weekend, and could well have a say in who comes out on top given his much-improved form this season. The Welsh international has bounced back well following a disappointing campaign in 2014/15 that even saw talk about a potential exit, and is now looking back to his best for Real.
“Last season I didn’t play to anywhere near to my potential. It was important for me to keep working hard, to keep fighting. It is difficult playing in a foreign country. I’ve felt more settled, more involved in the team this year and I think that has shown in performances on the pitch,” said Bale, who has formed one-third of a potent attack with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, who have scored 63 goals between them in the league this season.
“It’s good to have a bad season, you really do learn a lot about yourself and I feel this season I took (what happened) last season on board. I understand the game a lot more over here and hopefully there is a lot still more to come in the future,” added the Welshman. Having scored 15 goals in 16 La Liga starts, Bale finds himself one of the most ruthless attackers in Europe, and is making up for lost time.
The 26-year-old has scored and assisted a goal in the Spanish top flight every 56 minutes, and was signed out by teammate Cristiano Ronaldo for being a key player in the squad. Real Madrid have certainly missed his influence since the former Tottenham forward spent time sidelined with injury, but now he’s back their form has improved.
They come into this weekend’s clash with their fierce rivals off the back of four consecutive wins, scoring 16 goals for their troubles. Bale has contributed to 31% of the goals, and looks in fantastic shape to end the season on a high. The World Record signing has certainly lived up to his billing since his move to Real Madrid, having scored and assisted 73 goals in 76 league games.
He’s on course to set a record tally for goals in a Real Madrid shirt as he’s currently matching his best return of 15 from 2013/14 with games remaining in the league. Any talk of the forward leaving the Santiago Bernabéu have been quashed this season, and it looks more likely that Bale will sign a long-term deal with Real Madrid.