Tottenham Hotspur travel to the Bernabeu tonight to take on Spanish giants Real Madrid. They’ll be, of course, without the services of Welsh wing wizard Gareth Bale, what with him having left North London for the Spanish capital some four years ago. But Real Madrid will be missing him too; the Cardiff-born number eleven is out injured at the moment. But he’s still well worth remembering as Spurs take on the current European champions. After all, he’s one of the world’s best players.
Bale didn’t exactly get snaffled up for a cut-down fee, of course. The Galacticos had to splash out a then-world record transfer fee of €100.8 million for his services. So the fact that he won’t be available tonight will be a bit of a stinger for them. Not that Real are exactly left wanting for talent to replace him.
He might not be taking to the field tonight, but we’ll still see plenty of shots of him in the stands or on the bench, we’re sure. Just because he won’t be scoring any wonder goals this evening, that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy a few of his finest scoring moments though, does it?
Here are six of Gareth Bale’s best Spurs and Real Madrid goals…
Vs. Barcelona, Copa del Rey Final, 2014
April 2014. Bale had been in Spain for around six months. But those six months were plagued by injury. Slowly, Carlo Ancelotti began to ease him into the side. His form picked up, he started to get a couple of assists and was looking good. Real fans were still unsure whether he justified his hefty price tag, though. Until the Copa del Rey final. The score poised at 1-1, there was just five minutes remaining. A Real break saw Bale sprint off with the ball…
85 minutes into a match, no one should be able to do what he did. He skinned Marc Bartra like a chicken drumstick and scored perhaps the finest counter attack goal ever seen. And in a final. Against his new club’s most hated rivals. What a way to win over all those notoriously hard-to-please supporters, eh?
Vs. Atlético Madrid, Champions League Final, 2014
Not long after that Copa del Rey final, Bale was turning out in the biggest game in club football. A Diego Godin goal had put Real’s inter-city rivals in pole position, until a last-gasp Sergio Ramos header took the game into extra time.
Los Blancos would go on to win the game 4-1, after an exhausted Atleti side capitulated in the bonus half hour of play. Bale scored the crucial second on 110 minutes. It won’t be the finest in his career, but in terms of turning perhaps the most important club game he’ll ever play in – it was huge. And it ain’t every day you score in a Champions League final, is it?
Vs. Inter Milan, Champions League, 2010
It’s crazy to think that the two games Bale played for Spurs against Inter Milan in Europe were seven years ago now. Still fresh faced and relatively unknown to a wider European audience, no one expected the kid to tear the Italians to shreds. But boy did he. He practically retired Maicon in those two games.
In November he inspired Spurs to beat Internazionale 3-1 at White Hart Lane in a wickedly dominant display. But it was his second half hat trick at the San Siro that really caught the eye, with one goal really sticking out. 4-0 down, just into the second half, he picks the ball up and whizzes past half the blue and black shirts on the field and fires a rasping drive past Julio Cesar. Madrid scouts furiously took notes.
Vs. Rayo Vallecano, La Liga, 2016
Within fifteen minutes of this league fixture last year, Real Madrid rather unexpectedly found themselves 2-0 behind. They were without their talismanic mainstay and relentless goal-getter Cristiano Ronaldo, who was out with a muscle strain. Would Bale step up to the plate? You betcha. A headed goal on 35 minutes from the Welshman started the comeback. An equaliser from substitute Lucas Vázquez levelled things. But Rayo pushed for an unlikely winner late into the game, peppering the Real goal with shots and crosses.
One deep corner into the Madrid six yard box was cleared and picked up by Bale. With so many Los Vallecanos committed forward, Bale saw an opportunity to use his pace. An incredible run saw him in the opposition box in Usain Boltesque time. And he stuck it away. 3-2.
Vs. Lyon, Europa League, 2013
Now a France and Barcelona star, Samuel Umtiti was a child when he scored an eye-catching goal for Lyon in this fixture some four years ago. But he wouldn’t get the headlines. Two awesome free kicks from Gareth Bale in a Spurs shirt would see to that. Both were cracking, but our favourite? The dipping, swerving drive from a full 35 yards out.
Vs. Basel, Champions League, 2014
This may have been a fairly routine victory over the Swiss champions in their opening Champions League group game back in 2014, but it really shows the swaggering Real Madrid at their best. A cheeky outside-of-the-boot dink from ex-Spurs teammate Luka Modric finds Bale, who meets it with a little dink of his own. The ball lifted coolly over the advancing Basel ‘keeper, all that’s left to do is guide the ball in. Total ease. Total focus. Total dominance.
Gareth Bale might be missing tonight, but Real Madrid Vs. Spurs won’t exactly lack for quality. The away side bring their in-form duo of Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen. And the home side, well, they’ve got about fifty players that can change a game, haven’t they?
Don’t miss the action. Kick off is at 7.45pm. We’ll be screening the game down at your local Rileys. Come and join us…