Goal by Bale
Ever since transferring from Tottenham to Real Madrid for a world record fee, Gareth Bale had failed to live up to the expectations that come with being a Galáctico. Frequent injuries and a lack of consistent form throughout his first five years motivated rumors about his place at the club and had fans demanding a replacement. Advertised as Cristiano Ronaldo’s future star attacking partner, Bale had been left in the shadows. The Welshman was looking for his moment to prove to himself and the world that he belonged right where he was.
It was the 2018 UEFA Champions League final. Mighty Real Madrid was taking on upstart Liverpool for the most prestigious crown in club football. Led by Zidane and powered by global superstars like Ronaldo, Ramos, and Modric, Madrid were the favorites in the matchup. Liverpool were no slouches themselves though, boasting one of the most talented rosters in Europe including Salah, Mane, and Van Dijk and coached by the charismatic Jurgen Klopp. The match had huge implications for both sides. Liverpool had the chance to prove its run was no fluke and it belonged permanently among the world’s elite after years of disappointment. For Madrid, a a third straight Champions league trophy would place them with rare company and cement their legacy as one of the best teams of the era. Gareth Bale started the match on the bench as he had for most of the tournament.
The match was fast paced with lots of opportunities on goal for both sides. A Real Madrid goal shortly after the half was quickly countered by Sadio Mane for Liverpool. Madrid were controlling possession through that point but lacked creativity and could not find the finishing touch. On came Gareth Bale in the 61st minute. The Welshman was brought on to provide instant offense with his power and skill. Two minutes after he entered the match, magic happened. Ronaldo made a streaking run across the middle of the field 30 yards from goal, laying the ball off for Casemiro who chipped a ball to the left wing where Marcelo was waiting. Marcelo controlled with his chest, cut the ball onto his weaker right foot, and floated a ball into the middle of the box, 15 yards from goal. Three Madrid players made runs anticipating the cross, but the ball arrived a few yards behind the intended target. Bale quickly turned, rose up into the air, and struck the ball over his head with his left foot past the outstretched arms of the keeper into the top left corner of the net. The stunning bicycle kick ultimately Madrid won them their third straight champions league trophy, immortalizing Gareth Bale’s status in the history of the club.
Above is Bale’s goal from the final.
“https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GR2jgbkjAY” YouTube, GarethBale11i, 26 May. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ayso3sh7hn4. Accessed 27 Jan. 2019.