Gareth Bale is Real Madrid's talisman ahead of Champions League final

Gareth Bale's spectacular performances throughout the business end of the season have made him, along with Cristiano Ronaldo, the man Real Madrid fans are pinning their hopes of lifting la Undécima on. And that's no mean feat. The Welshman has always been blessed with an uncanny knack for scoring goals at decisive moments, but now he looks far more reliable and is playing his most consistent football since moving to Spain. His stellar displays when Cristiano has been able to help out have helped his confidence soar, which in turn has had a massive impact on the pitch. His ability to get on the scoresheet remains as enviable as ever, however, his involvement in games is more effective and more sustained than ever before. Bale has already earned his chops in a Champions League final and has worked himself to the bone this season in order to enjoy another victory in Milan. Playing in the shadow of a ‘once in a generation player’ like Cristiano is not an easy role to play, yet the Cardiff native waited patiently for his turn to shine and grabbed it with both hands.

Up until this year the question hanging over him was whether he was capable of becoming the main man at a club as demanding as Real Madrid. The answer is quite clear now. As long as he can stay fit, we are talking about a footballer who the rest of his team-mates can look up to. Bale has played frequently and very well this year, nonetheless, the impact he has in the biggest game of the season will determine whether or not he can be considered as one of the world's greatest exponents of the game.