Watch out La Liga… Real Madrid’s newest star is only just getting started.
Gareth Bale scored a stunning hat trick on Saturday against Real Vallodolid in Madrid’s 4-0 win, with the Welsh attacker scoring his three goals via a header, his left foot and his right foot. In the business that’s known as a ‘perfect hat trick.’
But despite his stunning display of perfection, Bale believes he can crank things up a notch.
“I scored three goals but I hope to do better,” Bale said. “I want to keep improving and working hard during the matches and training. I’m very happy here. I needed time to adapt after not having a preseason but I’m improving now. Everything I hoped for has come true. The fans and the club are incredible.”
With Cristiano Ronaldo out injured for a few weeks, Bale has stepped up to the plate in stunning fashion in recent games.Since Real lost to Barcelona on October 26, bale has started in all seven games since and scored eight goals for Carlo Ancelloti’s team.
After an tough initial settling in period which saw him struggle with various injuries after not having a proper preseason behind him, the 24-year-old now looks full fit and is firing on all cylinders as Real chase down Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona
Barca are beginning to have a little bit of a wobble, as they lost to Athletic Bilbao at the weekend while Altletico Madrid are now joint top with FCB on 40 points. Real sit just three points behind in third spot and are perfectly poised to take Spain’s top-flight by storm once again.
If Bale delivers on his thoughts that he can get even better, Real will easily seal their first league title since the 2011-12 season and just their second title in six years since FC Barcelona’s recent dominance began.
The wing wizard from Wales is delivering what we all knew would eventually come, tons of goals and dazzling performances to go alongside them. The way he’s seamlessly slotted into Spanish soccer and is able to play his natural game is phenomenal, Bale is back to his best… and his best could get even better.
One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.
Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.
At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.
That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:
HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.
AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.
I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.
In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”
HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.
I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.
Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.
The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.
John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.
That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.
Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.
The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.