Thursday 22 February 2018

Bale booed as Benzema makes light of Ronaldo ban

Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale
Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale Newsdesk and Agencies

Gareth Bale showed some exquisite touches for Real Madrid in their 4-1 victory over Real Sociedad on Saturday but was once again subjected to whistling from a section of the Bernabeu crowd.

The stage was set for the Welshman to be the talisman of the team in the absence of the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo but instead it was Karim Benzema who took over the reins with two goals and a dominant performance.

Bale played in the role of Ronaldo on the left of the attack and was full of running but some Real fans have turned against him as they feel he is too greedy and doesn’t look to combine with his team-mates enough. In his debut season he was lauded for his crucial goals but in this campaign he has been less decisive in matches and his weaknesses have been more evident.

There were whistles from the crowd last month at home to Espanyol and they were spurred on when Ronaldo was angry at one point for not receiving a pass. Against Sociedad, they whistled if he lost possession or shot waywardly.

James Rodriguez was irritated in the first half when Bale snatched a ball that was coming to the Colombian and then failed to hit the target with his shot from the edge of the area.

Clearly, Bale is used to a more direct British style of football, which conflicts with the more measured build-up play that fans are used to seeing at the Bernabeu.

Still, Bale did have supporters on the edge of their seats with some of real quality, including a delightful flicked pass for Isco and he combined with Benzema for the Frenchman’s first goal.

Meanwhile in Italy, Juventus missed a chance to extend their advantage over second-placed AS Roma when they played out a dismal 0-0 draw away to Udinese yesterday, while Napoli closed in on Serie A’s top two with a 2-1 win at Chievo.

A Mauricio Pinilla scissors-kick gave Atalanta a last-minute 2-1 win over Cagliari, Fabio Quagliarella grabbed a hat-trick in Torino’s 5-1 demolition of Sampdoria and Inter Milan’s miserable form under Roberto Mancini continued as they lost 3-1 at Sassuolo. Things looked just as ugly after the game as Mauro Icardi and Fredy Guarin argued with the travelling fans after throwing their shirts into the stands only to see them quickly thrown back at them.

Juventus, with 50 points from 21 games, stayed seven clear of Roma although Carlos Tevez should have given them the points when he shot wide after being set up by Paul Pogba.

Napoli’s 2-1 win at Chievo, thanks to Manolo Gabbiadini’s winner, took them four points  behind Roma, who drew 1-1 with Empoli.

Atalanta’s Pinilla has now scored for 10 different clubs after his effort in the fourth minute of stoppage-time.

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