With Cristiano Ronaldo gone, Real Madrid finally need Bale
Real Madrid have now gone three games without scoring, and the fans are up in arms. It's no surprise. This is something that happens only rarely, and the worst thing about it is we had seen it coming. Cristiano Ronaldo has left, taking his 50 goals a season with him; a sale which, lest we forget, followed on from last year's loss of James and Álvaro Morata, who also chipped in with a fair few. Consumed by his strange obsession with suping up the Bernabéu, Florentino Pérez has been cutting back on transfers for a while, and, seemingly mistaking what he'd like to be true for what actually is, he put it about that, between them, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale could replace Ronaldo's goals. After losing to Atlético Madrid in Tallinn, he reluctantly agreed to sign Mariano Díaz. But they're still coming up short.
Cristiano and Bale are similar, but...
Benzema is now the only Real player who has featured in every one of Julen Lopetegui's starting line-ups, yet no-one was ever under any illusions that he'd be the one to take on Cristiano's mantle. No: of the two, you could only see it being Bale - and, even then, not without applying a hefty dose of optimism. There are similarities between Cristiano and Bale: they're both tall, quick and have great shooting ability... They're both individualists. Neither slots comfortably into the team's collective play (that's particularly pronounced in Bale's case), but they carry an intimidating, powerful, clinical aura that allows the rest of the team to breathe that little bit more easily. There's one key difference between them, though: Cristiano hardly missed a game, while Bale is all too often unavailable.
With Cristiano gone, Bale's fragility is more of an issue
Cristiano's absence only makes Bale's fragility all the more problematic. Let's be honest: before the break-up of the bbC, an injury to the Welshman was bad news, but by no means the end of the world. In came Isco or whoever it may be, the team slipped into a 4-4-2 formation, and it worked just fine. Now, with Cristiano gone, the side is left somewhat toothless if Bale's not there. They still have Benzema's style with ball at feet, the intermittent brilliance of Marco Asensio and, as a final roll of the dice, the explosiveness of Mariano. But none of that is as effective as the natural attacking punch boasted by Bale. Unfortunately, there's often something up with his body - and there's little good in the club saying there's nothing wrong with him if we then don't see him out on the pitch.