Bale is already less Bale in Wales

The Welshman is questioned for the first time in his country for lack of minutes. Giggs: "He's still very professional." His Eurocup, in the air.


After John Charles, the Good Giant who formed a trident with Sívori and Boniperti at Juventus in the late 1950s, Gareth Bale is the strongest emerging figure in Welsh football. Not even the career of Giggs, United legend and now national coach, can match his feats. If Charles led Wales to play the quarterfinals of a World Cup, the one in 58, against the Brazil of a young Pelé (17), Bale put his country into the semifinals of Euro 2016. Two milestones for a small nation of little more of three million inhabitants where rugby is, by far, the king of sports.

Football there took a qualitative leap with the transfer of Bale to Real Madrid. Audiences and stadium attendance grew exponentially (FAW studies reveal 30%). And the Federation took advantage of it. He created a strategic plan around the footballer, a great investment that spanned from the lower categories to the first team. It worked. Wales played in 2016 for the second time in their history the final phase of a major tournament and reached the semis. When Bale made his 17-year-old debut under Toshack, Wales ranked 68th in the FIFA rankings. Today is 23.

That built castle is now about to fall. The debate there revolves around the need to continue to trust Bale blindly if he does not have minutes in Madrid or the possibility of having them. Two days ago, technician Giggs organized a highly selected meeting with a bunch of British media and 80% of the conversation, to which this newspaper has had access, delved into this topic.

"It's something I've gotten used to," Giggs argued to reporters. "I've always said that the ideal situation is that I want my players to play and enter the field at that game pace, but Gareth has been in this situation for quite some time." Giggs even went so far as to admit Bale's physical limitations due to his injury propensity. "Ok, I may sometimes be out of shape and not able to do 90 minutes twice in a short space of time, which again is not ideal, but above all I must say that it is an honor to work with him because he is a great professional and always arrives in the best shape, "he defended. But the debate is already underway. Bale in Madrid has a complicated Eurocup.

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