The spotlights again point to Gareth Bale on the eve of the first official match for Real Madrid this season.
At stake, the European Super Cup and more, because, for the Welshman, the game against Manchester United – the team that want to sign him – is more than a match.
He wants to hit the heights after a summer full of rumours and a last season in which he was not the main man in any of the finals Los Blancos competed in.
He did not play in the European Super Cup against Sevilla because, after his brilliant European Championship, Zinedine Zidane left him at home to work on his fitness.
Bale wanted to start, but the coach said no, as he also did to Toni Kroos, with both having to watch Madrid win 3-2 from home.
The same thing happened in the Club World Cup, the Welshman missing the tournament through an injury sustained against Sporting of Portugal.
The lowest point came in LaLiga.
He was at La Rosaleda and wanted to be part of the title celebrations against Malaga, but Zidane didn’t even afford him a minute.
He did, however, give him 20 minutes to enjoy the Champions League at home, but the reality is that of the four finals last year, he did not start any.
Now, Bale is especially motivated for the game against United, a team to which he has been linked throughout the summer, something that’s been sharply denied by his representative Jonathan Barnett.
“I can’t sign you because you do not speak,” said Jose Mourinho to the player recently, and it’s true that the Portuguese would be delighted to have Bale next season.
A collector of titles
Though he may not have enjoyed last season’s glory of playing in all of the finals, his resume since joining Real is spectacular.
He has won all possible titles except for the Spanish Super Cup, a competition he has an appointment with next Sunday.
Three Champions Leagues, two Club World Cups, two European Super Cups, one LaLiga and one Copa del Rey.
“I signed for Real Madrid to win titles and I am fulfilling all my dreams,” he said at the beginning of this preseason to MARCA.
Now he wants to add individual glory to his collective success, being decisive in the important matches.
Without Cristiano Ronaldo, who will probably stay in Madrid training, the supporters and Zidane expect him to shine in Macedonia.