One of the most iconic images of Euro 2016 was the embrace (accompanied by some caring words) between Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale after their semifinal. It’s not known what would have happened if Portugal had lost, but in any case it was treated as a sign of newfound recognition by Cristiano for his Real Madrid teammate. Inevitable, of course, but no less symbolic.
Cristiano didn't recognise Bale's talent at first...
Cristiano has gone through many phases in relation to Bale: initially, he didn’t recognise the talent of the Welshman, who was stuck out on the right wing to do secondary labour. He didn’t expect anything from him nor look for him. Bale appeared in important historical moments during his first season at Madrid, but in the dressing room he was considered inadequate.
In his second season, the Portuguese fought for his habitat and left little room for Bale, leading the number 11 to ask for a change of status. He requested Benítez to accelerate this process of transition, but as one of Madrid’s executives said: “Cristiano can end anyone”. Rafa soon left.
...but he needs Bale now
Cristiano now though has the end of his career in his sights and he needs Bale to win help him win more. Because of that, he’s taking Bale under his wing. Such a style of leadership is that of one who prefers the new star to remain trapped in his embrace. Only a hero superior to the two can end that unstable balance (Zidane?). Will the French coach give extra responsibility to Bale to the detriment of Cristiano? It sure is fascinating.