Gareth Bale v Cristiano Ronaldo Euro 2016 stats: Why it could be time for a changing of the guard

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Two of the world’s biggest stars, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo are set to go head to head on Wednesday night, as Portugal face Wales for a place in the Euro 2016 final.

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The Real Madrid ‘Galacticos’ may be used to winning trophies together at the Santiago Bernabeu, but as the pair get ready to face off in Lyon this week, their crunch encounter represents so much more than friendly rivalry between club teammates. This one is about national and personal pride.

Ever since his world-record transfer to Real Madrid in 2013,Gareth Bale has been viewed as the heir to Cristiano Ronaldo in the Spanish capital.


For Bale, such expectation has proved at times to be burdensome, and until now, there’s been no real comparison in terms of output, Bale having largely lived in the shadow of Ronaldo during his first three seasons in Madrid, the second of which was incredibly tumultuous.

Now, though, as we enter the closing weeks of the France showpiece, Gareth Bale has proved those comparisons to be legitimate.

Ronaldo Bale

Both Bale and Ronaldo have been involved in four goals at Euro 2016, but it is the Welshman who has unusually outscored his Madrid teammate, netting on three occasions, compared to Cristiano’s two goals. While Ronaldo has had many more goal attempts – 32 to Bale’s 20 – only nine of his efforts have been on target. That rate of 28.1 per cent compares miserably to Bale’s 70 per cent – 14 of his shots being on target. Ronaldo has also shown his impatience, being caught offside 11 times compared to Bale’s two.

The above stats seem to suggest that while Bale has thrived with carrying the burden of a whole nation on his shoulders, his predecessor looks to be frustrated by it.

The Welsh wizard is adamant that Wales have still not peaked at Euro 2016 and is taking inspiration from how underdogs Greece and Denmark previously won the tournament.


Greece’s victory in Lisbon at Euro 2004, is something Bale’s predecessor Cristiano Ronaldo is all too familiar with, having been part of the Portugal squad to suffer such a defeat on home soil. But in a strange way, defeat on Wednesday night to Wales could feel worse for the Portuguese captain, and therefore could explain his hesitancy and inconsistency at the tournament so far.

For Ronaldo, the next fortnight will define whether he will finally be able to remove the shackles of Leo Messi, and standalone as the greatest footballer in the world, or if the Portuguese great, will have to unwillingly, pass the torch to his heir, his apprentice, his next in line.

As Gareth Bale, and Cristiano Ronaldo lineup in the tunnel next to each other at the Stade de Lyon on Wednesday night, the Welshman will stand just as tall as his rival, no longer the sidekick.

While it is Ronaldo who is desperately seeking ‘his destiny’, Gareth Bale’s tournament performances having increased the feeling that a changing of the guard is closer than ever.

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