Jack Arscott 22/02/2013
After Gareth Bale singlehandedly overcame Lyon last Thursday, there is probably nobody in the world of football who doesn’t know who he is. That privilege is shared by a select few, among their number the sacred duo of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, whose names are bywords for outrageous and virtually inimitable talent.
The question on everyone’s lips is that of how far the Welsh winger can go. Possessed of blistering pace that leaves top class defenders flailing at thin air and a prize fighter’s physique that makes mincemeat of flimsy young full backs on a weekly basis, Bale is a very modern footballer.
There was a time when Ferenc Puskás could write his name into the record books on the pitch while evidently indulging himself off it but times have changed. Spurs’ best player is in good company in an era when, in spite of the all consuming success of Barcelona’s passing style, brawn is supposedly best. Why, then, is he unique? The answer to that question lies in the countless match winning performances Bale has conjured up over the last couple of years, as well as those which weren’t quite enough to dig Tottenham out of a hole. Just ask Maicon, whose reputation as the most formidable right back on the planet was laid waste by the former Southampton starlet not once but twice.
These displays, which have gone down in footballing folklore, were conspicuous not just for the six goals he had a hand in, but for the way he crafted them. Bale has an engine that never needs replenishing and, what’s more, his aim is nearly always true. This brutal combination of relentless running and lethal finishing has been on show recently, first when he powered past three Newcastle defenders to score a late winner in the Barclays Premier League and then against the former French champions in the UEFA Cup as two unstoppable free kicks whizzed beyond Remy Vercoutre. It has been said before, and it is becoming increasingly apparent, that Bale is an all-round player. Everybody wants to get their hands on the man with the Midas touch.