With no Real Madrid players in the Spain squad at Euro 2020, Madrid fans have been following players in other teams at the tournament. Particularly Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard who, when at at their best could form a potent attack with Benzema, while attempts to sign Mbappé are put on the back burner. Last night we were able to see Hazard finally start a game and play the full 90 minutes. He held out until full-time, but had warned on the eve of the game that his ankle will never be the same as it was. He showed glimpses of the great striker he undoubtedly is, but none of the electric agility with which he used to turn defenders inside out and resolve games on his own. That is still a long way off.
Bale looking lively with Wales
The problem is that his vibrant style of play, which involves accelerating, changing pace and direction depends a lot on his ankle, so in many ways he has lost many of the attributes which characterised him as a player. He has been reduced to a player with talent, vision and a decent shot, but without pace - reminiscent of Isco on a good day. It's not a solution for Madrid's attack, with Benzema entrusted with filling the void since Cristiano left. Bale on the other hand, has been showing flashes of the player of old. His performance against Turkey showed that he is the heart and soul of his team, a great passer of the ball and enthusiastic captain, whose authority is recognised by all of his team mates.
Is Bale the answer to Madrid's problems in attack?
Will he return to Madrid? Bale's problem is that, underneath it all, he has the soul of a 19th Century English sportsman - who practices sport for pure pleasure and doesn't view it as a job. He enjoys playing golf and football in selective games. That's what he did during his season on loan at Tottenham, while being tolerated by Mourinho, who managed to draw the best from him. But is that enough for Madrid? Would Ancelotti be as lenient and understanding as Mourinho? And perhaps more importantly, would he be willing to grant him the same free-roaming role he has with Wales and wanted to have at Madrid? That was once a sticking point between them. But the current Madrid side is so toothless in attack that who knows what Carletto will end up doing.