Gareth Bale booed by Real Madrid fans as Bernabeu calls for new wonderkid Vinicius to play in Welshman’s place
- Real Madrid fans have turned on Gareth Bale following their poor start to season
- Welshman was substituted at 0-0 during Madrid’s win over Real Valladolid
- Madrid fans booed Bale, who is on a seven-match goalless run, off the field
- Vinicius came off the bench to score as Madrid struck with two late goals
At any other club in the world scoring two goals in a Champions League final, one of them a candidate for greatest goal in the competition’s history, would be enough to win freedom of the city and lifelong acceptance from the supporters.
As Gareth Bale found out on Saturday, Real Madrid is different.
Just five months since his brace in Kiev helped Real Madrid win Europe’s premier club competition Bale was whistled and jeered like a failing new signing on Saturday.
Gareth Bale’s starting spot for Real Madrid is under increasing pressure from Vinicius
There is now increasing pressure on temporary manager Santiago Solari to play 18-year-old Vinicius Junior in his place in against Viktoria Plzen this week.
Bale has been through this before. He was cut no slack in 2014 after his goal won the Copa del Rey final in the last minutes or a few months later when he scored the decisive goal to help Real Madrid win their tenth Champions League.
Again, two years later when he could barely walk to the penalty spot but stepped up to score in a shootout win over Atletico Madrid as Los Blancos finished top of the pile in Europe again.
Bale has now gone seven matches without a goal for Madrid and was booed off on Saturday
Bale has won four Champions Leagues and a league title in five years at Madrid but if he left tomorrow he would be branded by many in the Spanish capital an expensive flop who never lived up to his 100m euros price tag.
Vinicius in contrast is the new darling of the Bernabeu – a showman for supporters left in deep depression by the club’s recent run of eight hours without a goal.
Bale is on a similar personal barren run. If he fails to score against Plzen then he will have gone eight games without a goal and matched his previous longest dry spell.
He was taken off in Julen Lopetegui’s last game and he suffered the same fate in Solari’s first match in charge.
By contrast Vinicius came off the bench to score and help Madrid seal a late 2-0 victory
The saving grace for him on Saturday was that he was already close to the home dug-out and did not have far to walk as he was whistled off the pitch by fans inside the Bernabeu.
He had been whistled during the game too – most notably when he took a throw-in and the ball ran straight through to Valladolid keeper Jordi Masip.
He had tried to set Benzema clear but the Frenchman had not read his team-mate’s intention by running in-front of the visiting keeper so making Bale’s throw-in look senseless.
For now Benzema is no longer the focal point for unhappy Real Madrid supporters and crowd favourites Isco and Marco Asensio – neither of whom are in form – are also, for the most part, escaping criticism.
Bale has not scored for Madrid since netting the second in a 3-0 win over Roma in September
Bale takes the flak. Isco was on the bench at the weekend and Asensio was the player taken off to put on Vinicius, but the finger of blame still points at Bale and the way his body language compares with the young Brazilian.
Vinicius bowed to the crowd on Saturday after his shot was deflected in to give Real Madrid the lead. For Bale the head was bowed for long spells as he struggled to make an impact.
He launched himself at one cross, heading just wide, and crashing to the turf in the attempt but he was still accused of a lack of commitment post game. It’s been forgotten that he was also Real Madrid’s best player when their season turned in a heavy defeat by Sevilla.
The flickers of form are failing to light the darkness, the trophy haul counts for nothing, and it’s threatening to be jeers for souvenirs as he looks back on his fifth season.
The Welshman was king of Europe as recently as May when he came off the bench to score twice, including a wonder goal, in the Champions League final success over Liverpool
With another transfer window approaching it’s inevitable that a return to the Premier League will again be a subject of speculation. A mid-season move is not going to happen but the clouds of negativity fog the horizon.
This is certainly not the bright future imagined for him by president Florentino Perez desperate for him to become the new standard bearer post Cristiano Ronaldo.
The only silver lining right now comes from the fixtures calendar – there are not home games in the month of November for Real Madrid so Bale will be spared more whistles for the foreseeable future.
Bale has helped Madrid win four Champions Leagues but is still questioned by club supporters
He will be in action in the Czech Republic on Wednesday and in Vigo against Celta at the weekend. And when club football resumes after the international break Real Madrid then travel to Eibar and face Roma in Italy. With no home comforts to be found that month on the road will be welcomed.
What remains to be seen is how much football he will play in that time and how effectively he can keep 18-year-old Vinicius and his winning smile at bay.
Bale has won every club competition on offer at Real Madrid, scoring in most of the key games en-route, but as Saturday showed. He has still not won the Santiago Bernabeu over.
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