Most people found it pretty funny when Gareth Bale picked out a flag with the now ubiquitous slogan ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid – in that order’ on it after qualification for Euro 2020 was confirmed this week.
Most people outside Madrid, that is. Perhaps predictably, there was something of a sense of humour failure in some Spanish papers on Thursday, the front cover of Marca declaring Bale ‘Disrespectful. Wrong. Ungrateful’.
But while the media might have briefly lost their brains, the Totally Football Show’s resident Spanish expert Alvaro Romeo says it probably won’t make much difference to the people actually at the club.
“I believe that probably the [fans at the] Bernabeu will be harsh on him, but I think Zidane and the Real Madrid players are going to be more pragmatic. Bale is not perhaps the most popular figure among Real Madrid’s stars, but at the same time he’s a hell of a tool for them. Especially now they’re playing against PSG next week.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he is playing competitive football for them straightaway, maybe this weekend.
“I don’t think he will be more hated or less respected after this, because this has been an ongoing conversation for a long time. Reports in Spain are saying Real didn’t like the way he presented the celebration, and among the Spanish media and fans there’s a feeling that Real were made into a laughing stock [by the flag].
“The supporters are definitely going to be hard on him, because they have been waiting for him: let’s not forget that Bale played in the October qualifiers for Wales, he played in November for Wales, but in the middle he didn’t feature for Real Madrid. He’s going to be booed, because he’s never available when needed.”
In a slightly more pleasant story from Spain this week, it looks very much like Santi Cazorla, who was very nearly forced to retire from the game due to injuries, will be at Euro 2020 with the national team.
“It’s a very nice story,” said Alvaro. “It’s very unclear who’s going to be that extra midfielder in the Spain team [for Euro 2020]. Could it be Dani Parejo? Could it be Dani Ceballos? Or could it be Santi Cazorla, who is the best at the moment? He’s playing great football, and he brings a little bit of a reminder of the Spain team in 2008.
“If nothing goes wrong for him, and he stays physically OK for June – and let us not forget that it’s a very long season – he will be part of Luis Enrique’s squad.”
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