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Why doesn’t Zizou like Gareth #Bale?#HalaMadrid

Published on August 9, 2019 by   ·   No Comments

Rajarshi Ghimire

It all starts even before Zidane joined Madrid. It starts from the moment Madrid signed Bale from Tottenham in the deadline day of 2013 summer transfer window for a then world-record fee, which they lied to Ronaldo saying that Bale’s transfer fee was less than Ronaldo’s so that not to hurt his ego. While they were careful not to hurt Ronaldo’s ego at that time, Bale was Madrid President, Florentino Perez’s trump card to reduce the importance and grasp of Ronaldo on Madrid’s squad and one day, eventually replace him.

Like every other Galáctico he had signed before, Perez wanted Bale to play each game, big or small. Then manager Ancelotti had realized that playing both of them together at once put too much defensive burden on the other 9 members of the team, but the nice guy he was/is, he found the solution. He dropped the 4–2–2–2 formation which he had on his mind at the start of the season, and changed to 4–3–3. The much-coveted BBC lead the line, midfield worked their socks off to cover the defensive imbalance. Midfield three of Xabi Alonso, Modric, and Sami Khedira was chosen to sustain the playmaking, creating and balancing role. Khedira got injured, Angel Di Maria who was a very good right-winger if not a world-class, was converted as a midfielder by Ancelotti. Various injury and suspension happened during the course of the season, but still, Madrid triumphed in Cup competitions. Cristiano Ronaldo was unavailable for the Copa Del Rey Final, but Bale scored an incredible goal where he gave a through ball to himself and ran off Marc Barta. In the champions league final, Xabi Alonso who was the fulcrum of the team was suspended, they rushed Khedira back to starting line up in the final. A lot of drama was waiting for the final, Casillas made a mistake, Madrid tried and tried throughout the game but couldn’t score, the game was heading towards being one of the worst champions league final ever, and all of a sudden in minute 92:48 Ramos scored that header. And with that, the game became one of the most dramatic ever. While the team had loads of Galácticos in it, Angel Di Maria who once was a winger but now a left-sided center mid was Madrid’s best player for the season, not Cristiano Ronaldo, not Gareth Bale.

New-season arrived, Di Maria was sold, another Galácticos, James Rodriguez who had an amazing world cup was signed. Xabi Alonso left for Bayern, his replacement came from Bayern in Toni Kroos. Kroos who used to play no. 10 at Bayern was now all of a sudden no. 6 (defensive midfielder for Real), after all, who needs defensive balance when you have Galácticos (anyone remember Claudio Makelele?). So now Madrid played a 4–3–3 with Casillas; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Kroos, James; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo. Isco was rotated with James for that midfield role. The team had no defensive shield from midfield but still, it was doing well. As usual with Bale, he got injured. That was the Best thing happened to Madrid at that time. Ancelotti changed his formation to 4–4–2., with Isco and James flanking Modric and Kroos, Ronaldo and Benzema up front. Madrid played best of the game seen in some time. Everything was in cloud nine, then a lot of sudden Modric got injured. Ancelotti was known for rotation and his use of squad but at Madrid, as he didn’t rate Illaramendi highly, he overworked Kroos and Modric, and the injury was a very likely consequence and it happened. Bale came back and as a Galácticos, he had to be in the team. So Ancelotti, trying to be Yes-Man for Perez, committed the biggest mistake in his life. He reverted back to 4–3–3, played BBC upfront and Isco, and James in midfield with Kroos in the ‘defensive’ midfield role. As you can imagine with a team playing with three no. 10s, two wingers, a striker, and two fullbacks who liked to bomb forward all the time, defensively Madrid were shambles. The team that was supposed to win the Treble at the start of the season ended the season empty-handed with some silly club world cup on the bag. They lost in the champions league semi final against Juventus, lost La Liga by two points. The unfair game, Ancelotti was sacked. If anything, the season told that Bale and Ronaldo in the same team are very unsustainable with respect to the balance of the team.

Rafael Benitez was hired for the start of 2015–16, only he and Perez know how/why he was hired. First thing Perez wanted from him was to change the formation to 4–2–3–1 and make Bale the main man, no. 10, through whom everything goes. Benitez obeyed but the team didn’t. Trying to field all Galácticos at once against Barcelona in El Classico, Madrid lost humiliatingly. 4–0 in the home soil. He was sacked. In came Zidane.

First thing Zidane did when he came in was never play Kroos as defensive midfield again, he installed Casemiro in the no. 6 role. With the midfield of Casemireo, Modric and Kroos, BBC up front, James and Isco covering for anyone who gets injured or is rested in midfield or attack, Madrid went on to win the champions league. Zidane’s dislike for Gareth Bale continued to grow. It was ironic that Zidane, himself a Galácticos once, was against the President’s idea of fielding Bale (the new Galácticos) whenever possible.

The next season Madrid did the double under Zidane. They won the La Liga and Champions League. And it was won because of Cristiano and others not because of Bale. But still, Perez wanted Bale in every lineup, Zidane managed to hold president’s urge. His biggest decision was not to include Bale in starting lineup for Champions League final against Juventus, even when he was fully fit. His message was clear, the team should be above individuals, even Galácticos. And that final was the best game Madrid played under Zidane to that point. Till that point, it was like Zidane’s team against President’s Bale.

Zidane had his point, no matter what the president asked/requested/ordered with respect to Bale, it was not too intelligent to build a team around a guy who gets injured all the time, comes back and takes multiple weeks to be in shape. Bale game is dependent on pace so he has a history of muscle injury. Just because a Galáctico came back from injury, you don’t put him to the starting team and disassemble the whole development, that is what Zidane did. And in the clash of egos and politics between Alpha Males, Florentino Perez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, and Gareth Bale, the relation between Bale and Zidane deteriorated.

The following season when Bale scored that spectacular bicycle kick against Liverpool in Champions League final after coming from the bench, it was the same story. Bale was no longer guaranteed a place in starting line up when he was available/injury-free, he had to win wit. After the final, in the heat of that goal, Bale claimed in the post-match press conference that if he doesn’t play regularly, he will have to leave. Ronaldo similarly declared of a new challenge. If rumors are to be believed Zidane wanted Ronaldo to stay and Bale to be sold but conversely, Bale was given a new contract and Rolando left for Juventus. The same rumors claim that Zidane couldn’t bear that so he resigned, though, during his resignation, he mentioned that he could no longer motivate these players and get hunger in them so he was leaving. While all players showed their gratitude and well wishes to Zidane during his departure, Bale was the only one who went against that.

Julen Leopeteigi came in and got sacked, Santi Solari came in and got sacked, the only thing consistent during that period was Bale’s constant injury. When Zidane came back, now empowered with all power imaginable, he didn’t show a desire to have Bale anywhere near his starting XI, even when fit. The final game of last season, when everybody expected Zidane to start Bale so that he could have a proper send-off, their relations was so sour that never mind starting, he didn’t even let him come off the bench.

Now in the preseason when Bale didn’t feature, Zidane on his press briefing told that “Bale is 24 hours or 48 hours away from leaving. It is my decision, nothing personal but a decision for the team.’ But Bale has not yet left.

And the saga of injury, fitness, masculine ego, politics, hatred continues…

Rajarshi Ghimire

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