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 Posted by Dermot Corrigan
Sep 16, 2013

Gareth Bale Madrid debut 'bittersweet'

Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal says Gareth Bale's debut on Saturday night was “bittersweet”, while adding that the pair have already built an understanding down the team's right flank.

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Bale tweeted after the 2-2 Primera Division draw at Villarreal that it had been good to score, but he could not be completely satisfied with the game ending in a draw.

The Spain Under-21 right-back echoed these sentiments to AS, while pointing out that the €101 million signing had been impressive given the level of pressure which all players at Madrid must face.

“It was a bittersweet debut because although he scored, we did not win,” Carvajal said. “This is the best club in the world, and the level of pressure is high because the best players are here, but every player tries to give their all.”

The pair had dovetailed well down Madrid’s right side, Carvajal said, for example when the defender provided the cross from which Bale poked home his first Madrid goal.

“We understood each other pretty well, in attack and in defence,” he said. “You could see with the equaliser when I gave him the pass. For having spent so little time together he has adapted as well as possible. He is quick and likes to play with spaces, but he also has the quality to go inside and leave space for me.”

Sunday’s Spanish press had also taken a similar balanced approach, hailing Bale’s achievement in seizing the opportunity to make headlines and score on his debut, while admitting that the result had been disappointing and Madrid’s performance had been below par.

Marca's cover hails Bale's contribution on debut.
Marca's cover hails Bale's contribution on debut.

‘Bale y Punto’ said Marca’s cover, a play on words which could mean ‘Bale, full stop’ ‘Bale settles the argument’ or ‘Bale and just one point’. The front page of AS screamed ‘Bale scores… and Diego Lopez saves’ -- remembering that the Madrid had needed eight top-class saves from their goalkeeper to escape with the draw.

Marca also punned inside, with ‘Porque lo Bale’ [Which almost means ‘because he’s worth it’] headlining an analysis piece claiming the €101 million signing had shown his worth “because this kid from Cardiff debuted in while after just three training sessions with his new team. Because the great players arrive in a hurry and are destined for great beginnings. Because Madrid’s new No. 11 always dreamed of playing and scoring in white.”

AS recalled that other galacticos like Luis Figo, David Beckham, [Brazilian] Ronaldo and Cristiano had all scored on their La Liga debuts, while its match report by Luis Nieto wrote that “Bale looks good, bordering on magnificent" while also suggesting the right wing was not the ideal position for him: “It must have seemed to Bale that this was not as he had been told. First they sent him to the right, where all left-footers end up while Cristiano is here, as hierarchies come before team shape. Maybe with time...”

El Pais noted in its colour piece that Bale had not been over-involved in the play during his 60 minutes on the pitch, but he had shown both his versatility and ability to seize the moment by appearing in the right place at the right time -- inside the six-yard box -- to poke home his goal.

“Bale was ‘the saint’s hand’ for the white outfit as, while Villarreal were dominating, his 38th minute goal helped Madrid to breathe,” wrote Javier Perez. “It was not a powerful strike with his left foot, nor a powerful header, but the touch of an opportunist striker. He appeared at the back post, like he had been a ‘9’ his whole life to touch home Carvajal’s cross with his right foot, as he held off the centre-half at his back.” 

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