Position: Winger, Attacking Midfielder, Second Striker.
Date of birth: 07-16-1989
Height: 184 cm
Club: Real Madrid
National Team: Wales
He is one of the most exciting players to watch in temporary soccer, the most expensive player in the world, and hailed by many to be the greatest player ever to play for Wales. His name is Gareth Bale. One of the fastest soccer players in the world, with his exceptional fitness and great ball techniques developed through years of hard training, Bale is a perfect attacking player, a left-footed version of C. Ronaldo. From club level to national level, he makes history at every team that he plays for.
Bale is well known for his tremendous speed and innate acceleration of a marathon runner. Especially, he is capable of performing other skills and techniques that he has at high pace. The combination really turns him into a fearful force to any defense in the world, extremely deadly in counter-attack strategy as he can easily accelerate to get past defenders.
Offense: Mostly recognized as a winger, Bale tends to start from the wing and dribbles pass opponent defenders to create space and chance for goals. With a magicful left foot, Bale can perform those beautiful and elegant moves with the ball that are really entertaining to watch. His pace and stamina also allow him to be dynamic at the same time, and he is extremely efficient, scoring a lot of goals and giving assists on a regular basis.
Scoring and passing: Spanish press called him “The Cannon” because of his perfect finishing skills, from powerful and accurate strikes from long distance to bullet headers in the box. The fact that he can make fast run and gear through little space contributes greatly to his huge amount of goals in the box (Bale has scored the most headers in Europe this season, 9 goals). In addition, he is a free-kick specialist who can bend the ball fast and accurately into the corner, so even when not playing well, Bale can still make difference from dead ball situations. Last but not least, other soccer players also praise Bale for his crossing ability. He can quickly pick up his teammates at scoring positions or place the ball accurately into the penalty box for a goal.
Play making role: Even though he is dangerous enough as a winger, playing as an attacking midfielder, which allows him more freedom to fully showcase his abilities to create even more impact on the field, could be a perfect position for Bale. This season witnessed the best Bale yet as he frequently played as an attacking midfielder for both Real Madrid and Wales, having the highest number of goals and assists in his career as well as directly earning the most points for Real Madrid.
A player of historic moments, making history with Wales:
The special thing about Bale is that he is a player of big matches. During his time at Tottenham, he scored a hat-trick against the former European champion Inter Milan and completely destroyed the world’s best right-back at that time Maicon. In his debut season, he scored crucial goals in both finals and brought Real Madrid two trophies, most noticeably their historical 10th Champions League cup. His furious run and chip-goal against Barcelona in the Spanish Cup final was absolutely stunning and furious.
In his hometown, he is praised as a National hero, a living soccer legend. On Bale’s feet, Wales finally made it to a big tournament, Euro 2016, after 57 years of waiting. The country also reaches its record high of 22nd in FIFA ranking. Even though soccer is a team sport, Bale undeniably carried Wales on his shoulders through this entire process. Of all the players in the qualification round, Bale has won the most direct points for his team. He is the captain, the leader, and the spirit of the team.
Key matches at Group Stage:
The most exciting match for Bale and Wales would be against England. Ironically, the English Premier League has developed this Welsh super star as he is today before his record transfer from Tottenham to Real Madrid. Since the England’s defense is made of many inexperienced and young players, Gareth Bale, at the top of his career with his knowledge and experience with English soccer, would be a serious threat to England’s dream of advancing deeper in the tournament.
By Kuber Madhok and Trung Can
How to cite this page: “Euro 2016 Players to Watch: Gareth Bale”, written by Kuber Madhok and Trung Can (2016). Introduction to Euro 2016, Players to Watch, European Cup 2016 Guide, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp/tournament-guides/european-cup-2016-guide/euro-2016-players-to-watch/euro-2016-player…atch-gareth-bale/(accessed on (date)).