Madrid, Monday @PeopleSports11
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.
There is now increasing pressure on temporary manager Santiago Solari to play 18-year-old Vinicius Junior in his place 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 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. 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. – DAILYMAIL