Gareth Bale: “Real Madrid are better than Atlético”
The Welshman was on Spanish radio speaking confidently ahead of the Champions League final: "It would be a failure if we didn't win".
Gareth Bale appeared on Spanish radio station Cadena Cope on Tuesday night to talk about the Champions League final. The Welshman is confident Real Madrid will get the job done in Milan and bring home the Undécima.
Will this final be in any way similar to Lisbon?
“It'll be a different match but hopefully we'll get the same result."
What are your memories of the goal you scored in that final?
“Di María had a strike and the keeper struggled to get hold of the ball. The ball hung in the air for ages and I remember leaping to meet it."
Is it hard for British players to play their football elsewhere?
“Moving to a different country is difficult, especially for Brits. It's taken me a little while to settle in but now I'm happy and so is my family."
How is your Spanish coming along?
“I'm taking classes and trying to speak a lot more. It's tricky but I'm trying my best to learn the language."
Would you like to retire at Real Madrid?
“I’m not thinking about retiring yet. But we’ll see what happens. Real Madrid fans can relax though. I still have three years left here on my contract and I’m really enjoying my football. I’m feeling more and more comfortable in Madrid and I’m very happy.”
Would not winning the Champions League be a failure?
“You’ve got to look at it two ways. To reach a final is great but of course we want to win it. We’re not even thinking about losing so yes, it is a failure if you don’t win. It’s the same as coming last. All we’re thinking about is winning going into this final. That’s what we want to do.”
Who are the favourites?
“The label of favourites doesn’t matter to us. Obviously people working in the media are going to talk about favourites but we’re not focused on that. We’re focused on ourselves. So like I said, come Saturday we’ll only be thinking about the match.”
Is it more difficult to beat Barcelona or Atlético Madrid?
“They’re both difficult opponents. They’re both good teams. But we know we’re capable of beating them so all we can do is take to the pitch on Saturday, do our best, and hopefully that will be enough.”
Is it better to win the Champions League, the league or the Cup?
“All the titles are important to me. At the start of the season we aim to win every single trophy. Obviously we weren’t able to win LaLiga or the Copa del Rey but we’re in the final of the Champions League and have the chance to win a major trophy and we’ll be giving it everything to do that.”
Do you find it difficult to deal with Atlético's playing style?
“Players [like me] with pace prefer to have space but I feel like I’ve improved over the last few years since coming to Spain. I’ve adapted my game to mitigate not having space, playing one-twos when needed. We know what to expect from Atlético. They’re a very physical team but we’re prepared for that.”
The BBC will have a lot of defending to do…
“Of course we have to defend. I feel like we’ve defended better as a team over the last six months. We understand that defenders are just as important as attackers so we defend as a team and attack as a team.”
Simeone predicts Real Madrid will play on the counter. Is he right?
“I’m sure Simeone has his opinions but not even we know how we’re going to play yet. Depending how the game goes, that’s how we’ll play. Atlético are going to be very defensive as usual but it depends on how things pan out. If we have to counterattack, we’ll counterattack. If we have to play possession football and create chances that way, then we’ll do that.”
Who's better Oblak or Keylor Navas?
“Keylor Navas. 100%”.
Man for man which team have the better players? Would any Atlético players make it into the Real Madrid starting XI?
“Real Madrid [has the better players]. Real Madrid are better in every position.
Has this been your best season at Madrid?
“Obviously with the injuries to Cristiano and Karim the team lost two goal scorers. I tried to take some of that responsibility and help the team out. I feel more comfortable in the team and more involved. And that’s definitely shown in my performances.”
Where do you prefer playing?
“I enjoy playing through the centre as there’s more freedom, but I’m happy playing on the right and left as well. The most important thing for me when I’m out on the right is being able to move around with a bit of freedom. That’s how I like to play.”
You've becoming one of the biggest aerial threats in world football...
“I’ve been working on my heading ability in training and when you score a few in games your confidence grows. If a ball makes its way into the box hopefully I can put it away with either my head or my foot.”