Gareth Bale analysis: how will he fit in at Real Madrid?

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Gareth Bale Officially Unveiled At Real Madrid

The world record signing of Gareth Bale has finally been agreed, following a summer of highly-amped speculation. Luckily for Bale, despite carrying his colossal £85m price tag, he’s remaining reasonably humble and grounded by suggesting Ronaldo was “still the boss” on Monday.

But as the deal is finally put to bed, one thing still remains; how exactly will Gareth Bale perform on European football’s centre stage?

Award winner

Bale, named both PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year last season – and was amazingly once considered a jinx for Spurs – will undoubtedly come under intense scrutiny from every football fan across the world when his Madrid journey begins. And I’ll be one of those fans too; he may not have quite reached the realms of either Messi or Ronaldo yet, but his former boss held him very much in a similar light, “for Spurs to lose Gareth would be the same as Real losing Ronaldo, or Barcelona losing Messi, a disaster.”

Bale could become the modern day poster boy for every young football fan across the UK and despite a lack of recent Briton’s succeeding abroad, he’s already made important strides towards breaking that curse. Addressing the Real fans in Spanish during his official unveiling would’ve been warmly received by those fans, especially those sceptical of his astronomical price tag. But that scepticism, heightened during Spain’s current economic crisis, will be forgotten should Bale help Real regain European dominance.

Bale is undoubtedly a unique player; he’s strong, fast, he can pass, he can dribble and we’re well aware of his shooting capabilities. But what does all this mean for Real? And how will his performances affect, the now, second world’s most expensive player; Cristiano Ronaldo?

As ever in these situations, I spoke with friends over at Prozone for their expert opinion. I was keen to understand just how Bale compared to Ronaldo last season, how each of their games would likely affect the other and subsequently, the overall affect this would likely have on Real.

Contribution to the team

Firstly, Prozone analysed each of the players’ contribution to their clubs last season. The figures in the table below assess each player’s output as a proportion of the team’s total output, in matches where they played the full 90 minutes.

Output-table

 

The data confirms the two clubs’ dependency on Ronaldo and Bale last season:

Despite only having roughly 10% of the team’s individual possessions, they generally output significantly more than 10% of the team’s actions.

  • Approximately a third of goals and shots came from the two players, whilst Bale was relied on more for crossing at Tottenham than Ronaldo at Madrid.
  • Given how much both players contribute to the teams they play in, domestically and internationally, it seems likely that in the same team they’ll dilute each other’s relative outputs. Few teams, if any, have only two players scoring 70% of the team’s goals.
  • This is not necessarily a bad thing. Both players may give up goals in return for a highly potent attack on both wings, potentially resulting in more success for the team.

Usage of possession

To better understand how Bale may play and fit in at Real Madrid, Prozone compared his usage of the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria. It is likely that Bale will take di Maria’s role on the right wing.

Usage-of-poss

Again, it’s striking how similar Ronaldo and Bale are in terms of how they use the ball; influenced by a combination of tactical instruction and underlying talent.

  • Ronaldo has a greater tendency to shoot than the Welshman – possibly a product of playing position – but on the whole they pass, dribble and lose possession at similar rates.
  • More significantly, Bale is distinctly dissimilar to Angel di Maria. The Argentinean plays a more considered game than Bale, with a greater tendency to pass instead of shoot. Di Maria also plays the ball in one touch less regularly.
  • It seems likely Bale will be encouraged to play his ‘natural game’ for Madrid, which is closer to Ronaldo’s than di Maria’s.
  • This would mean attacks down Madrid’s left and right may be similar in nature; not necessarily a bad thing given the talent available.
  • With two years left on Ronaldo’s contract, in the long run Gareth Bale seems capable of tactically filling the Portuguese’s role on the right wing; there will plenty of examination as to whether Bale can technically match his high standards.

The above certainly helps us understand the similarities between both Bale and Ronaldo. Whilst concerns were raised how Bale would compliment Ronaldo’s playing style, it seems Real are in favour of furthering their attacking prowess – by replacing the more considered Di Maria with Bale. And if Bale and Ronaldo’s performances continue as they have the past couple of seasons, then the Bernabeu could become one of the greatest shows on earth.

Moving to another country isn’t easy; he’ll have to adapt to Spanish culture, weather and language. But he’s a young lad whose head appears firmly screwed on, along with that, Real Madrid will have stringent protocol to protect their latest prized-asset. The stage is now set for Gareth Bale, the world’s most expensive player.

Let me know your thoughts on the subject; regardless of data, how do you envisage Bale’s on-field relationship with Ronaldo evolving? Can Bale emulate the success of Messi or Ronaldo? I’ll try reply to as many as possible.

prozone-logo-black

 

 

 

A special thanks to everyone over at Prozone for proving the data used in this week’s blog.

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66 comments
Sparkler
Sparkler

I was lucky to see Ronaldo dismantle Northern Ireland on Friday night. The only word to describe his performance was clinical. The first time he gained possession was greeted with chants of 'Messi, Messi' and the customery 'Boo's', a hat trick later and following the final whistle, the whole stadium stood to applaud this modern great. Bale, as great as his potential, doesn't have the swagger that Ronaldo posses. This showed in his perilous attempts to keep a ball up on his unveiling.

I am afraid that if Bale doesn't hit the ground running the white of Madrid is a much harder place to hide than white hart lane.

AstroMan1001
AstroMan1001

@megvic7 always been a mystery to me too. Maybe British players aren't good enough and/or are overpriced. Maybe arrogance. Maybe fear. Maybe they are too stupid to speak with foreign tongue. The childish comments re. McClaren and Barton accent when speaking to foreign journalists shows the level of ignorance.

Are there any British players in Italy or Germany? Or France now, for that matter? I can't think of any of note. But for every Bale-like signing, you would, statistically speaking, expect there to be a certain number of British players in lower clubs in Spain and the like. I doubt there is any kind of normal distribution (a.k.a. bell curve).

megvic7
megvic7

Great post Joey & debate.

I personally cannot wait to see Gareth Bale playing in La Liga.

I do however really wonder why more British players are not playing abroad? I loved watching you play for Marseille Joey. Surely the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new country/culture, the challenge of learning a new language & adapting to a new style of football would be so appealing?

kacky001
kacky001

Dosent matter about major tournaments as long as he does it for club every season. Messi and ronaldo are  two of the best players ever but have never really copied there form for their country at least not to other greats like maradona and zidane cruyff brazilain ronaldo etc. How many players have done well in a tournament then bought by a team and done nothing for the club like diouf diao and guivache for example. im not saying it dosent matter but if you cant help it then let be judged on your form for your country

AstroMan1001
AstroMan1001

The term "great" is subjective - I can't be bothered to debate opinions. It's too dull. The comment also has nothing to do with being anti-Welsh. People who think it's anti-Welsh are guilty of letting their own prejudices prevent them from actually understanding the topic.

The question I was pondering is whether playing for a nation that regularly qualifies for finals is detrimental to a player's value - whether in terms of re-sale value, longevity, or effectiveness on the pitch - compared to an equally gifted player who spends EVERY summer resting.

Maybe Madrid saw value in the fact that Bale will not be coming back knackered from a tournament every other year and so might still be playing when he is 40. Maybe there is statistical proof that the ability of a player of his calibre is enhanced by the fact he is Welsh (or San Marinan or Luxembourgois). If Real Madrid didn't look at data on stuff like this before forking out 85 million, I would be flabbergasted.

ryancurtissport
ryancurtissport

As for him not playing WC, time will tell whether he is stopped from being a legend. He still has a long way to go after two successful seasons.

Historically the likes of Maradona, Pele and Cruyff are remembered from the World Cup years afterwards. But with the advent of the Champions League and the game becoming more global and accessible, this might change. Although the World Cup will always be the pinnacle, as it is SO global, by it's very nature!

George Best left a great legacy, but I don't recommend GB living that lifestyle! (Although I'm sure he'd have a lot of fun!)

HarryHatfield
HarryHatfield

Joey- if you were in bale's situation, would you have:
- pushed for the dream but risky move to Real Madrid
- stay in your comfort zone at Tottenham for another year helping them push for top 4 (and most likely getting that)
- push for a more 'safe' move to the likes of Manchester United (who I'm sure would have been interested) massive club, guaranteed champions league, massive wages and removes the need to go abroad.

I have just spent  ages registering for this, would really appreciate your opinion


Thanks, Harry
Twitter @harry_hatfield

simon9532
simon9532

To join the debate. Is bale really that good of a player or was he not just a goodish player in a mediocre team. Another season full of promise for spurs and yet again nothing to show for it. As have other players from spurs labelled excellent of late. Who has really gone on and lighted up the world of football. Its a strain amount of money to pay for a relatively unproven player. Time will tell on this deal whether its an outstanding buy or yet another over rated flop in the transfer market

jbyre97
jbyre97

Personally I think that Gareth Bale should've stayed at Tottenham. Yes, he's a world class player but for me AVB would've got even more as a player out of him. Don't get me wrong, Ancelotti is a great coach with great ability but Bale and AVB had a special bond from his time at Spurs. Now that he's gone to Madrid, it could be very hard for him and his girlfriend to adapt to life. Let alone his very young daughter.

Danrgriffiths
Danrgriffiths

I don't think Bale will be 'ignored' in the debate of being a world class player because he plays for Wales. John Charles was always highly regarded when he only played in one WC, and while not in conversation for best in the world, I think Giggs is held in higher regard than some of his generation who've played countless tournaments for England. Bale's a world class player and proves it week in week out, does he need to play at a tournament to prove that if he can cope with international opposition at a club level all the time? Wales' shortcomings shouldn't really bring him down.

Appo
Appo

Enjoyed the read, I'm a big fan of Bales's but I do think his game is much more suited to the Premiership which is end to end and more frenetic, much more counter attacks and Bale able to hit teams on the break. I hope he proves me wrong that he is just as effective in a slower build up, more methodical keep ball approach. It's great for the Premiership tho to have one of its talent moving to a true European giant and showing that we can produce world class players, it's down to Bale now to make it happen.

Davelah
Davelah

The La Liga will suit Bale's game and he should be allowed to showcase himself, as Mcmanaman did, I just hope the press allows the time to do so, and he doesnt let his price tag ruin him, after all its not his fault he cost that much.

yourenglishlab
yourenglishlab

In any case, we can only wish him the best of luck and hope that he sets la Liga on fire.  It´s tremendously difficult to ply your trade, whatever it may be, in a foreign country whilst trying to deal with the issues of settling in and adapting to a new way of life.

Let´s hope he copes with it better than Ian rush did when he moved to italy....

Cumbo
Cumbo

Bale will fit in easily in the Spainish league and will probably wont have to do as much as he did in the PL and still be outstanding. Spain has 2 major teams which are Barca and Madrid, maybe 3 at a push with Ath Madrid. You have teams like Rayo Vallecano who are struggling with money and cant even afford to swap shirts at the end of the match, what PL club cant do that?  Furthermore in the PL you have 6 or 7 teams who can fight for the title this year as Liverpool have every chance of winning it in their current form and new signings. 


Bale in his interview spoke a bit of Spanish in his first interview which shows he has prepared himself for this move for a while which will show he has started to adapt to the change in his lifestyle already



Didnt Ronaldo get 50+ goals in his first season in Spain? I wont be surprised if Bale matches or even beats this


Steven

JamesWJ
JamesWJ

Personally, I think he's a world class player and hated my team (Liverpool) playing against him as I was never sure how he would exploit us! But I do feel he's been overvalued, and this may not do him any favours. I know we ourselves have had players that have been overpaid and failed to live up to the expectation, so with him being seen as a 85Million player, surely Madrid fans will be expecting him to score, assist and do everything for that? Plus having to play with Ronaldo, that may not help as the power of ronaldo may mean that Bale plays understudy to him rather than play with him? (If that makes sense) but I do look forward to seeing him play in Spain and the Champions league regularly now though!

MattAbela
MattAbela

Saying that Bale will not be one of the best players in the world because he is welsh?! Its like we are living in the 40s with a group of people being set as outcasts because of their race?! To say that shows you are small minded in your approach to football. Some of the great players have come from small countries such as Belgium or Ireland.

hassanalkharafi
hassanalkharafi

Tottenham used bale in a central position so I wouldnt be surprised to see an attack with ronaldo bale and di maria with isco playing in a deeper role especially now that ozil is gone

PaulBurns
PaulBurns

As mentioned, Bale needs to settle ASAP and he looked comfortable when the address was made to the public which was a good sign. I can see Ronaldo and Bale running riot in La Liga against the lesser teams.

If he carries his form over then it will be very beneficial to the Madrid side as they can have the luxury of alternating between Ronaldo or Bale to keep things fresh at home or leading up to crucial Euro matches.

The main benefit of signing Bale is the options that it will afford Madrid in Europe. As good as Di Maria is, it's impossible to ignore the fact that he is a very lightweight player who struggles against big strong physical opponents like Bayern. That left side is full of options now and the two can be rotated depending on the opponent or even the tactical necessity during gameplay.

Good luck to him, and if it doesn't work out at Madrid then I'm sure Man United will take him in haha.

juntal1983
juntal1983

Joey I saw ur post on twitter asking if bale can be best in the world being welsh

in regard to not playing at major international tournament. In my opinion, messiwho most regard as the best player ever , has played at several world cups and has yet to play anywhere near his performance s at club level. This brings me to the question of is the champs league bigger than the world cup now and is this the best place to evaluate there quality as a lot of international teams do not have top top drawer players throughout the team where the champs league does especially after the group stages? Scott edinburgh

ryancurtissport
ryancurtissport

Decent article JB, how much do you pay the ghostwriter?!

Lets make this simple...

A superstar football player, with all the correct attributes for the modern day game, has signed for an already world class side. He is still young and improving at a rapid rate (which is scary), but probably not as scary as being a La Liga full back! Imagine them swapping wings, you think you are getting a breather and you get someone with a slightly different style to try to cope with, they'll end up in counseling!

Anyhow, he is humble and the fact he models himself on Ronaldo will probably sit well with the Portuguese winger. If anything I can see them spurring each other on, both on the pitch and in training.

As long as it is purely footballing I can only see Real being bloody good! But with Real will know there is a lot of politics off the pitch.

Either way Spanish Football on Sunday evenings should be fun this year with the likes of Neymar, Messi, Ronaldo and Bale running at players! The perfect hangover cure!

davioburchio
davioburchio

I am a Colchester fan and never forget seeing Bale as a fresh faced kid for Southampton in a League match at Layer Road. With the fans' proximity to the pitch, you'd hear everything on the pitch from the fans. Bale took everything on the chin and had a really decent game, despite being a target for the fans. Much more experience pros like Chris Armstrong and Darren Huckerby could not handle the hostile abuse from at them an crumbled. The thing with Bale is that he has the mental toughness to succeed, there is no doubt he is a talent. He has all the right attributes and temperament to be a success wherever he went. He did not choose to be the worlds most expensive footballer or to be paid £300k a week, this is what Real thought he was worth. I have no doubt Bale will be a success, he can only learn more from the world class stars around him, I am certain both he and Ronaldo can be a force together. He has never been one to be in the limelight and is a well grounded guy, for me he'll be an undoubted success. Not forgetting the Ancellotti factor and have an Paul Clement at the club too will be a huge help. It certainly makes La Liga more interesting to have the current best player from these isles representing one of the world's best sides.

Dan1987
Dan1987

Bale has every chance of being recognised as a great player of the game with or without international success. Just as with Giggs, Brady, Best and De Stefano they all have reputations that go beyond the apparent limitations of domestic league success. With Messi and Ronaldo, there's always that argument about how either one can out-do the other, or Pele/ Maradona, and will always attribute their international success in proving they are the greatest. While you can consider international involvement a key piece of that image, sometimes just doing what you are best at, at a massive club will be more than enough to cement your place amongst the greats. Bale can do exactly that with Madrid, but must realise he is still a student and when the time is right, he will become the leader. If he succeeds in both roles as a player, he will not only fit in with Madrid, but alongside those greats.

Dscott91
Dscott91

I think he'll be a massive success he's a phenomenal talent, only thing I'm wondering is how long ronaldo will last, simply because there is no getting round bales fee and Perez is a very involved president I can't imagine him sitting back and watching someone they spent a world record fee on play second fiddle for too long even if it is ronaldo. He invested heavily in bale and took a gamble and he'll be desperate to see that investment pay off every chance he gets and he'll have no problem replacing CA if he doesn't make it happen.

billyk147
billyk147

In reply to AstroMan1001, George Best was recognised as one of the world's great players in his prime without having an international career of note. Different eras I am aware and maybe modern day pundits/fans demand success at both levels for players to be considered TRULY great (not in the throw about way the term is nowadays used).

atomowiski
atomowiski

Very good and interesting article, Jeoy. I don't Bale will struggle at Real Madrid just because of Carlo Ancellotti. I remember him fielding Inzaghi, Rui Costa, Kaka, Seedorf and Shevechanko* and getting best out of them "all". If it was me I would have given Bale the same role Messi plays for Barca. False nine.  Ronaldo, Bale and Di Maria up front, Isco as number 10. Xabi Alonso(Khadiera) and Luca Modric.

milner1
milner1

Personally I wish the lad all the luck in the world anyone who has the balls to move abroad deserves a chance to prove themselves, whether he's a sensation or not will be proven on the pitch he could be left with a legacy of being the biggest flop in football history but he deserves time and patience to find his feet in an otherwise brilliant team . P.s. I'm not from Tottenham or Welsh .

s_harrison1
s_harrison1

I think it is very much false that Bale can not become the best player in the world just because he is Welsh. Ronaldo and Messi are regarded as the best players in the world mainly as a result of their domestic form and performances. Portugal have never won a major tournament whilst Ronaldo has been in the side and his performances for Portugal have not been anywhere near as good as he has played for any of his clubs. If Bale reaches the levels that Ronaldo and Messi do for their clubs when he plays for Madrid, there is absolutely no doubt that his nationality will have any bearing on him being regarded as one of the best players in the world.

Darlo4
Darlo4

Great Article. On paper and with the backing of those stats bale and Ronaldo combination with those around them could be lethal. But despite bales humble approach to his new move and his admittance to Ronaldo still being 'the boss'. Will the pressures of possibly the biggest club ever, with the record fee hanging over his head be too much. He has gone from being the boss at spurs, to the club that evaded the success of Michael Owen, where David beckhams struggled at certain times. My point is has bale got the ability and attitude to put all this pressure into his stride and be a success. His goal scoring record and performance at spurs last season was phenomenal. Though is this not a different kettle of fish, going from running the show to playing in 1/8 of the pitch, with the likes of Ronaldo and co who have won trophies all there careers around you.

My point is I believe these pressures could send bale either way.

One of the major British success's in football, or the biggest flop in history?

Time will tell.

yourenglishlab
yourenglishlab

As a football fan living in spain, I have spoken to many Madrid fans, all of whom are without exception a little worried about him.  Whilst nobody doubts his ability, many are concerned about the enormous price tag and the weight of expectation that comes with it.  Can he adapt to a new culture and language?  How will Ronaldo respond to him?  Also, if he thinks that the british press are intrusive, the hacks in Madrid are in a different league.  Fans and media alike are notoriously impatient over here and will not be so forgiving if he fails to hit the ground running.

It´s going to be an interesting la liga this year....


coleyisalegend
coleyisalegend

The thing is last season Bale was the Star , and now he will be among stars, now he will have alot of pressure from internal and external forces... if Real are playing badly then he will be targeted.... unless he is particularly doing well. I hope he does well and Im a gooner. He is a good player but not 85m , i think tottenham got a good deal.

OliYoung
OliYoung

Very good article Joey, I think it all depends on his first few competitive games and how he starts. It could be very difficult for him changing to a new league and culture and having a lack of pre season. If he starts off poorly then his confidence as well as his managers and team and fans confidence will take a big dent, and then it will be a test of his character. However he will be dying to get out there and make a very good impression to his team mates (noticeably ronaldo) and the supporters. He will want to shrug the size of the price tag off early to calm any nerves he may have in the first few games. He needs a big start! Have a good season Joey. Would love you back at the Toon one day.

DMckeever
DMckeever

I'm a tottenham fan. it was a disaster to see Bale just leave us after 1 good season. But that being said, hes a phenomenal talent, an irreplaceable talent. Him and Ronaldo i think will be a successful combo because Bale is prepared to let Ronaldo run the show, their egos will not clash and because of this I think a beautiful relationship on the field between the both of them will form. Every human partnership in the world has a dominant figure and a submissive figure. Bale is more than ready to pay his dues and be the submissive figure until it his time to step into the bigger shoes.

I also think because they have two highly talented wingers with similar playing styles, it spreads the attack, making Real's offensive actions more balanced and less lob-sided. Which will mean defenses will have to stay spread to deal with both sides, leaving more room for both players to make a drastic impact in the game. I think the results will be similar to Bayern's attack that features the likes of Robben and Ribery.

ShahiThaKilla
ShahiThaKilla

Bale won't be anywhere near as effective in Real Madrid. He'll have to be content with not being the main man at Madrid which is a huge difference to Tottenham due to him being their main and most of the time, only outlet.

georgezielinski88
georgezielinski88

I can't see how Bale can't be a success at Real. He's proved he's got the mental toughness to compete after taking so much flak during his early days at Spurs. Every season he's improved since then and his attitute seems second to none. Also the overall quality of the Spanish league beyond Real and Barca is pretty poor. Can see Bale runnign riot against the likes of Levante and Valladolid.

ryancurtissport
ryancurtissport

@JamesWJ Maybe understudy on free kicks perhaps but they will be playing on the same team, on different wings! This can only be good for Madrid. If it is good for Madrid it will be good for both of them... the only thing is they may have to share the limelight. Maybe more of a problem for CR than GB!

Although Real have often had more than one superstar so should be able to manage this from the top.

PaulBurns
PaulBurns

Lets not forget he doesn't play for Spurs anymore. Compare the Carrick at Spurs and at United. The point I was trying to make is that it provides Madrd with more options in Europe particularly.

It's also important not to overlook the fact that Modric has had time to settle now so he could feature more under Ancelloti. In my humble opinion, I can't see Bale going to Madrid and being given the licence to roam/control midfield. I think he'll be out wide for his first season?

ThisisMikey2009
ThisisMikey2009

@ryancurtissport i think he will get some slagging & banter over his modeling/copying of Ronaldo in the dressing room which would be funny

atomowiski
atomowiski

@s_harrison1 Agree with you. look at Ribery for example. Everyone at France or FFF wanted to ban him for life and never performed for his country (2006 wc in exception) but he's now Europes finest  player. #SorryMyEnglish

Joey B
Joey B

Yes but at least they have played in them.

ThisisMikey2009
ThisisMikey2009

@ryancurtissport sharing the limelight will not sit with Ronaldo.He will demand to be the main man.Why do u think Madrid want it reported that Bale cost 90M Euro's.

jbyre97
jbyre97

Yes I do agree with you on that front. We'll just have to wait and see. Hoping it goes well for Bale and his family.

s_harrison1
s_harrison1

Correct but I don't think it is necessary in order to be the best player in the world. The champions league is a sufficient enough stage to prove, playing against the rest of the best players in the world?

ryancurtissport
ryancurtissport

@ThisisMikey2009 @ryancurtissport Time will tell. It worked OK with Zidane, Figo, Beckham, Raul and Ronaldo etc!

I genuinely don't think Ronaldo is like that too much, although I don't know the chap! Think it is a thing the media love to portray due to way he looks and it is an easy story up against Messi!

ryancurtissport
ryancurtissport

@ThisisMikey2009 @ryancurtissport I would wear my hat backwards with sunglasses everyday if it meant I could play like Ronaldo... no matter how ridiculous I looked!

I think there will be worse dressed players in a top-level football dressing room to take the piss out of to be fair!

ThisisMikey2009
ThisisMikey2009

@ryancurtissportI Yes but he mimicks Ronaldo's style off the pitch too (Hair,Clothes etc) which makes him come across like a copycat imo