Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale has been under the spotlight ahead of Wales’ Euro 2016 semi-final clash against Portugal on Wednesday night. The 26-year-old has carried on his fine form for his club into the international tournament, and will be coming up against a host of his Real Madrid teammates when the two sides lock horns at the Stade des Lumières.
He’s been one of the standout players for Wales in the European Championship for his three goals scored in five games, but manager Chris Coleman believes his team ethic is his best trait. The Dragons head coach says Bale is Wales’ world-class equivalent to Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo – of whom is a Real teammate – but believes the in-form forward is reaping what he sows due to hard work and putting the team first.
“You are either a team player or you are not. Obviously, Bale-o is exactly like that. Being comfortable in a team environment, being happy to work to a certain type of ethic, being with a bunch of people that enjoy being together, enjoy working hard and enjoy putting themselves out there – knowing that they are not guaranteed anything, even if they do give their best – but they just want to do it because they are doing it for their country – you can’t pretend at that, you are either like that or you are not., just like the rest of the lads,” said Coleman.
Gareth Bale is a key influence in the Wales side due to his outstanding dribbling ability and goalscoring threat. In the tournament this summer, no player in the national team has scored more goals (3), no player in the national team has had more shots (21), no player in the national team has had more dribbles (30) and no player in the national has won more headers (19).
His ability to drive with the ball from deep into attacking positions has been key to Wales’ counter. Midfielder Aaron Ramsey can manipulate the ball to pull off a similar feat, but the pace and power of Bale frightens opposition sides. He’s capable of scoring anywhere on the pitch, and is a real aerial threat from crosses too. Under Coleman he’s been given freedom to take up a more central role, and it’s certainly had the desired effort.
Bale isn’t afraid to work hard either, however, averaging more than two tackles or interceptions per game. Ramsey won’t be available for the semi-final clash against Portugal which puts more pressure on Bale to deliver. Can he lead Wales to the Euro 2016 final?