The Spanish giants are ending the calendar year only two points short of the joint leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Real Madrid have the opportunity for a fresh start in 2016, but much of the remainder of the ongoing campaign will depend upon Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, who are seemingly ready to put their issues behind them and take responsibility to lead the team forward.
As the Welsh player began to impose his presence in the Real Madrid’s squad, the Portuguese star did not hide his emotions and feelings on the pitch.
The two have often failed to find each other on the field in the early stages of the ongoing season, sparking speculation of ill-tempered relationship that could have a detrimental influence on the team’s atmosphere.
As the temperamental duo fought for on-pitch supremacy, the team’s performances suffered and the pressure that was put on Cristiano Ronaldo by the media, suggesting that Gareth Bale will soon replace him in the team, only made things worse. Most expensive player in the world was seen as the heir to Ronaldo’s throne and ‘the King’ felt jeopardized.
The situation was even made worse with Rafa Benitez’s tactical changes which saw Gareth Bale take a central role just behind the striker, thus forcing Ronaldo back further on the left wing, allowing him less opportunities in front of goal.
As the results slumped, Real Madrid players were urged to find the solution to the problem in order to help their team.
Back-to-back defeats to Sevilla (3-2) and Barcelona (4-0) triggered the reaction from Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale themselves, who sat down to clear the air and put any possible differences aside.
It was in the 4-3 triumph over Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League that the duo took a public demonstration to prove that everything is fine between them and that they will join forces in a mutual cause.
A warm embrace following one of the goals from Los Blancos was interpreted as the sign of the positive things to come of Ronaldo and Bale’s intent to move forward and the improvement was evident.
Los Blancos went on to record four consecutive La Liga victories, adding the UEFA Champions League 8-0 thrashing of Malmo along the way. The only defeat came at the hands of Cadiz in the Copa del Rey match which caused a great stir following Real Madrid’s inclusion of a players that was ineligible for the game.
Real Madrid were consequently ejected from the competition, but the team’s response was seen in their convincing performances in the league.
Madrid-based club have ended the calendar year with an amazing 10-2 win over Rayo Vallecano, the game which was seemingly another day in the royal paradise. However, there is more to it than initially meets the eye.
Couple of days prior to the game, Gareth Bale held an interview with the Spanish media, praising Ronaldo and claiming that the media look to make up stories of a breakdown in relationship with the two star Real Madrid players.
However, the interesting part of the interview was when former Spurs man was asked about the Portuguese being the best footballer in the world. Bale’s answer implied the cracks between the pair were not completely healed.
Bale was asked twice, refusing to provide the direct answer.
“He is one of the best players in the world and he’s been showing it year after year. The best? It’s up to you. He is a very…he is great player”, Bale said noncommittally.
The aforementioned 10-2 triumph over Rayo Vallecano brought up another controversial moment, this time putting Ronaldo’s ego in the forefront.
Even when Los Blancos win comprehensively against the city rivals, Ronaldo’s hunger for goals still gets the best of him. Having already scored two goals in the game, Ronaldo was trying hard to earn the hat-trick. Bale even tried to tee him up for it, but the ball ricocheted back to him, leaving the Welsh star with an easy tap in.
It also left Ronaldo far from happy.
Instead of joining his teammates in celebration, Cristiano Ronaldo smashed the ball into the net in frustration. Gareth Bale appeared to apologize and try to explain during the moments of celebration, but the Portuguese star remained silent and dissatisfied.
Problems remain as egos still control the situation, but the good intentions are there and Ronaldo and Bale will have plenty of time to work things out right and help their team make the best of the running season.
Los Blancos will come into 2016 in high spirits and with their chances wide open. Real Madrid stand at 9/2 to lift the La Liga title and much will depend upon the most notable duo.