Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Can Bale Muscle in on Ronaldo's star billing at Real? As Bale is bulking up for Bernabeu

Gareth Bale knows how strong the Real Madrid squad is - so he has been bulking up in preparation for the tough task of cementing himself in the team at the Bernabeu.

The £86million man might be the world's most expensive player but he arrived back in Madrid on Wednesday that he must push Cristiano Ronaldo out of the limelight to take star billing.

From his early days at Southampton he was known for his professionalism, athleticism and commitment to training, and just like Ronaldo, Bale has transformed from skinny teenager to supreme, muscular athlete, as these pictures show.

Arrival: Gareth Bale lands in Madrid after being on international duty with Wales

Bale played just over half an hour for Wales against Serbia on Tuesday night - his first competitive action of the season. His pre-season has been disrupted because of his move from Tottenham to Real but he has spoken before about how crucial having a good summer is.

Bale told FourFourTwo: 'It’s vitally important. It gets me physically and mentally fit for the season. If you don’t complete pre-season you’re 80 per cent more likely to get injured during the season. 'I’ve found that if I get a good pre-season under my belt it kick-starts my season and I hit the ground running.'

He has always looked for ways to get ahead and last season was spotted wearing special non-slip 'Trusox' socks, which claim to help anchor a player’s feet inside his boots, improving traction and increasing acceleration.

Working in a similar way to a golf glove, the socks have distinctive rectangular, non-slip patches on the outside and inside, which help to stabilise the foot inside the sock and the sock against the boot, allowing the wearer to push off with optimal power so less energy is wasted.

Biceps bulging: Ronaldo takes his shirt off and celebrates a goal
For a player like Bale, whose game is based on lightning pace and, increasingly, the ability to hit powerful shots and free-kicks from distance, this is particularly important.

The Welshman also started using black Kinesio tape to help prevent hamstring and quadriceps tears in September 2010 and wears strapping around his ankles. Bale could start his Real career playing behind Ronaldo at left back as his new club have a defensive crisis.

The Welshman may be the only option left to coach Carlo Ancelotti after both Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao picked up injuries during the international break. He has, of course, played there many times for Southampton, Tottenham and Wales and will probably not have to do too much defending against promoted Villarreal on Saturday.

However, Wales boss Chris Coleman says Bale is not fit enough to last a full match and it would be 'dangerous' to make him play 90 minutes.

'We have looked at him in these 10 days and he is nowhere near ready for 90 minutes even if Spanish football is slower,' Coleman told the FIFA website.

'If he starts on Saturday, he will not finish the game. I would be amazed if he does.

'He may get 45 minutes, I don't know, but he will feel better in himself after 30 minutes here.

'But he has only had four training sessions in two months which is dangerous.'

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