Gareth Bale over early-season struggles
Gareth Bale has admitted it has not been easy adapting to life as a Real Madrid player, but says he feels both he and the team are now in good form as they set their sights on a Treble-winning season.
Bale has taken time to settle at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu following his 100 million euro transfer from Tottenham last summer, but has still managed a relatively impressive 14 goals and 10 assists in his first seven months at Madrid.
Speaking to the club's official website while promoting his new boots on Thursday, the Wales international said the more tactical nature of football in Spain had been a challenge.
"Any transfer means a series of changes, in this case it is a new kind of football in a new country and it is not easy to adapt to," Bale said. "I hope to continue to do so and improve my performances.
"I have been surprised by the importance of tactics in La Liga. Not so many long balls are played, you try to keep more of the ball and pass it around. That makes it interesting to play in this league, where the standard is so high."
Left-footer Bale denied that playing on the right-wing was an issue, while saying that having the confidence of Blancos coach Carlo Ancelotti had been a big plus.
"Last year I was playing in the midfield or on the right wing for Tottenham, so this is not a strange position for me," he said. "I enjoy playing in that position because I think I perform really well there.
"[Ancelotti] has helped me a lot. As a coach he has given us the idea of trusting our chances and having faith in our potential and that has helped us to keep improving in the areas we're working on."
It had not been ideal to miss preseason training last summer as his world-record deal had dragged on, Bale admitted, but he said he was content with his current form.
"The preseason is very important for a player, but I have worked and trained really hard to reach the level of my teammates," he continued. "I am playing well and I hope to be able to keep it up for the rest of the season.
"I am quite happy with my performances so far. I have improved quite a lot, I feel good and everything takes its time. I have a lot of years left in this career and I hope to be able to be able to give the team more each year."
The 24-year-old says focusing on Saturday's trip to Malaga is vital for the Primera Division leaders, even with the following weekend's clasico against Barcelona looming.
"The next match is against Malaga in La Liga and we are concentrated on playing well and getting the three points," Bale said.
"Afterwards we will be focused on the clasico against Barcelona. It is important to win those matches against Barcelona. It is important to play our best football in those matches."
Madrid's ultimate aim for the season remained a Treble of Liga, Copa del Rey and the much hoped-for 10th European Cup trophy, Bale said.
"We are still in all three competitions and we have a chance to win all three, but you have to take it a match at a time to try and achieve it," he continued.
"We are in a good position in La Liga. We are first and we have a lead, but there are still 11 matches to play and we have to focus and keep winning so that we don't have to worry about what the other teams are doing.
"In the Champions League there are obviously strong teams left, there are no favourites. The goal is to win the European Cup, but we have to take it a match at a time.
"We hope we can get that long-awaited 'Decima'. Winning the trophy is always difficult, but these are great matches and we are looking forward to playing them."