Cristiano Ronaldo scored 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid, an average of 1.02 every time he played, finding the net in 63% of his appearances in a Madrid shirt. These stats are hanging heavily over Gareth Bale in his new role as Madrid's spearhead, particularly given that he has managed 90 goals in 192 matches since signing in 2013 (an average of 0.46 per game), scoring in 36% of his time on the pitch.
Yet for all these daunting figures, Bale is stepping up to the plate so far and is visibly happier this season. The Welshman has scored nine goals in his last nine games, between the end of last season and the beginning of this one, and has played a part in four of the eight goals Los Blancos have scored in official competeitions this campaign: Against Atlético in the Uefa Super Cup he provided the assist for Benzema to make it 1-1 (despite Madrid losing the game 2-4); on the opening day of the season he scored the second in a 2-0 win over Getafe; and in the next game against Girona he made it 1-3, before providing an assist for Benzema, once again, to make in 1-4.
Favourite opponents and injuries
On Matchday 3 Bale will fancy his chances of adding to his flying start as he comes up against one of his favourite opponents, Leganés - his record is three in three against Los Pepineros. One lingering doubt over Madrid's number 11 is his fitness and whether he can sidestep injury over a season. His last one was sustained on 23 September 2017, almost a year ago, but it was one that kept him out until 13 December, almost three months. The worry for Real Madrid will be a repeat, which will force Lopetegui to rethink his approach to Madrid's attack.