The Welsh Wizard or the Brazilian Brilliance? Both Neymar and Bale made switches to La liga last summer for staggering price tags, Neymar’s transfer however has recently been put under scrutiny and has slightly tainted the whole transfer and the controversy seemed to have got to Neymar, maybe the reason for his recent dip in form. Gareth Bale’s extremely prolonged transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid was a general annoyance to virtually every football fan as everyday we would see ‘Bale staying at Spurs’, ‘Bale close to signing to Spurs deal’ or ‘Bale joining Real Madrid’ but the news was finally confirmed 1 day before the transfer deadline day although it was said by the media that a ‘secret club’ had put in a bid for the Welshman before the Real deal was finalised, which was later revealed to be Manchester United. The El Classico is on Sunday and will be a cracking match if all promised is delivered and once again it will be Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi and equally if not even more importantly, it is Neymar vs Bale.
Neymar, often called Brazil’s golden boy, has had very heavy expectations since he joined Barcelona and although he hasn’t quite got the prolific partnership with Messi as their Real Madrid counterparts have, but both Neymar and Messi have had injuries during the season and haven’t really been able to play together and quite understand and adapt to each other’s game as one is used to being a lone striker and the other more of a winger but next season they will hopefully connect. Neymar’s career started at Santos in Liga Do Brazil in their youth system and represented them at youth level from 2003 to 2009 until he turned 16, then he was promoted to the first team and was implemented into the first team since his debut and over the 4 years he played for them, he led them to the Brazil Serie A title in 2010 and caught eyes from his unbelievably quick feet and ability to just simply run past players like they’re not even there. In 2012 and in the 2013 January transfer window, the Santos man was linked with Europe’s elite such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and both Manchester clubs but no deals were materialised. In the summer window of 2013, Barcelona acquired the services of the Brazil international for a fee of £49m from Santos. Neymar currently has 18 goals and 18 assists in all competitions in 40 apps and this is pretty good considering this is his first season in Europe and is still adapting to the Barcelona tika taka football which we have learnt to love and loathe all at the same time. After Neymar was presented at the Nou Camp for the first time as a Barcelona player, he was met with a great reception and was instantly a fan favourite and after a hugely successful Confederations Cup just previous, it’s not hard to see why. Neymar was 3rd top scorer with 4 goals (1st and 2nd being Fred and Fernando Torres), was given man of the match an amazing 4 times and was also the recipient of the Golden Ball which is awarded to the tournament’s best player and also was awarded the Bronze Boot for having the 3rd most goals of the Confed cup. Neymar is an integral part of the Brazil national team and has an amazing goal track record wearing the famous yellow shirt, scoring 30 goals in 47 apps. Neymar’s style of play is very Ronaldo-esque when he is deployed at the flanks, running past players and with dazzling dribbling and cutting back to pop a shot. He is one of the gifted as he is two footed, meaning he’s equally as good on his right foot as he is on his left, this is very good when playing as he doesn’t need to switch sides to test the keeper as Robben and Hulk do, both majorly one footed. Neymar is very unselfish, often giving lay-offs to team mates and this reflects in how many key passes he does and assists he gets. Although a weakness in his play is definitely the fact he dives and dives quite blatantly.
Since being an average left back playing in the Championship for Southampton to commanding a €100m price tag and moving to the biggest club in the world, Gareth Bale has come a long way in 9 years. The Welshman, who set the Premier League alight started his club career at Southampton and in after being in their youth team for a number of years, he got into the first team in 2006 and become the 2nd youngest player ever to represent Southampton ever, after Theo Walcott. He scored 5 goals in the 2006-07 season before Premier League teams got a sniff of Gareth and his raw talent. Tottenham Hotspur won the race for the Welshman, paying an initial fee of £5m, potentially rising to £10m depending on apps but a year later Spurs paid an early settlement to Southampton of £2m to get the final fee to be £7m as the Saints were in dire need of cash. At Spurs. he had a turbulent time until his final season to say the least. At the beginning of his Tottenham career, he was plagued with injures and then Benoit Assou-Ekotto came into favour and Bale was dropped. Around this time Gareth Bale was reportedly suffering from depression from his woeful career and wanted out of Spurs. But then manager Harry Rednapp wouldn’t allow this, knowing letting such a talent like Bale go would a great loss at his and Tottenham’s part. When Assou-Ekotto picked up an injury in the 2011-12 season, Bale was thrust into the first team and vastly improved his game to the point that when the Cameroon international came back from injury, Harry Rednapp had to find a way to implement both players into the team and he done this by pushing Bale further forward to left-wing so Benoit could play in his preferred left back position. Gareth Bale really burst onto the European scene after a 4-3 defeat to champions Inter Milan in the group stages After he scored 2nd half hat rick and they progressed to the round of 16 where they got A.C Milan, who they beat and went to the quarter finals via a 1-0 aggregate score line. In the quarters, Bale came up against his eventual club, Real Madrid who knocked out the North London club of out the Champions League, winning 5-0 on aggregate. At the start of 2012-13 season, Bale asked to change his shirt number to 11 from 3 as he was not a left back anymore and asked for a higher number. This was by far his best season, scoring 31 goals and getting 17 assists in all competitions and was the Premier League’s 3rd top scorer behind Saurez and Robin van Persie. When Bale joined Real Madrid for €100m, he was expected to make an instant impact he made quite the opposite, the first half of his season being on the bench or injured, It seemed Real may have spent €100m on a one season wonder it seemed. However now he is fit he is building quite a clinical and frankly scary partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema the deadly trio have 50 goals and 21 assists between them. Bale’s style of play is very unique, he is very skilful yet strong, almost like a powerhouse and his work rate is immense, getting back often to help out defensively. He is very good at long shots and is an expert from dead-ball situations and his finishing is immaculate although discipline is a big downfall is his game, often getting hot-headed quickly and reacting bad to decisions.
Last El Classico saw Barcelona win 2-1 at the Nou Camp and Neymar get a goal whereas Bale was virtually did nothing in that match, being subbed off after an hour. Tomorrow’s El Classico is even more of an important match for both Barca and Real Madrid as it could prove pivotal to the La Liga race.