Spanish press blasts 'irrelevant' Gareth Bale

Comparison are odious but sportsmen live or die by them; on Saturday, they weren’t favourable to Gareth Bale.

Barcelona signed Neymar in the summer, spending £48.6million on a player who looked too lightweight, too inexperienced outside Brazil, and too frivolous to ever justify the outlay.

Real Madrid responded by signing Champions-League-tested Bale for a lot more money. On Saturday, it was the Brazilian who dominated a controversial win for Barcelona.

Neymar wrote his name all over his first Clasico, scoring Barcelona’s first from an Andres Iniesta pass and playing in Alexis Sanchez for the decisive and brilliant second. England should take note — the Chilean winger is due at Wembley next month.

Bale had two shots that sailed over Victor Valdes’s bar, was booked just before half-time and taken off on the hour. ‘Irrelevant’ was how Barcelona sports paper El Mundo Deportivo described him. ‘The team continue to play better when their star signing is not on the pitch,’ said El Pais.

The Madrid newspaper also blasted Carlo Ancelotti’s call to start with Bale as striker: ‘The coach broke up the team to put Bale at centre forward!’

The unfortunate comparisons for Bale did not end with Neymar.

Karim Benzema replaced him on the hour and hit the crossbar with Madrid’s best chance. Bale started the game in Benzema’s centre forward position but the experiment lasted all of 20 minutes with him moving back out to the right-hand side.

‘I think he needs to find how to combine with his team-mates,’ said Ancelotti after the game.

‘Physically, he was fine — he just needs to look for more combinations. He needs to improve his movement and look for space but he was not bad in the one hour he played.’

The third damning comparison came with Jese — the 20-year-old Madrid forward who came on at 75 minutes and scored on 90 minutes. It will not be lost on Real supporters as they pore over another Clasico defeat that he cost the club nothing.

Credit: Pete Jenson/SportsMail

Bale’s £86m price-tag is the problem here, he has a lot of pressure on him. The press and fans need to give him time to blend to the team and Spanish game.