Gareth Bale, the Galactico and world’s most expensive footballer, was set for a glorious homecoming celebration before his devoted Welsh fans last night.
The European Super Cup, a trophy that will be scaling the lesser known footballing corners of Europe in the coming years, arrived in Cardiff last night and so did the city's sporting hero.
The scoreline finished 2-0 to Real Madrid with Sevilla - their opponents - trying but ultimately to failing to have an effect on the game. Regardless of how many goals Carlo Ancelotti’s team felt like scoring, there was not much the men from Seville could do about it.
Bale lifted the trophy, the first of many you feel for his team this season, and was bathed in confetti, but he was slightly overshadowed a certain Portuguese team-mate.
Ronaldo is still the boss
Who other than Cristiano Ronaldo, a player averaging better than a goal a game in a Real shirt, would score both goals for his team. Desperate to see a Bale masterclass, the Cardiff faithful saw only flashes of his brilliance but had to settle for a Ronaldo one instead. Not the worst alternative, you would say.
It was the former Tottenham Hotspur man who exquisitely set up Ronaldo for the first goal. Allowed some space on a familiar left flank, the Welshman whipped a delicious ball into the box to put it on a plate for the number seven to slide home.
Ronaldo scored 69 times and won the Ballon d’Or last year, so eclipsing that might well be challenging. He seems to have picked up from where he left off though, as the unstoppable, unplayable force of nature he was.
A Real force
Surely this is the best squad of players to have ever been assembled. There are arguably better players around the world who are of slightly higher quality in certain positions, but their speed, athleticism and power is unmatched.
A comment regularly thrown around about Madrid’s players is that they are not just footballers, they are athletes. Bale and Ronaldo are the best in that category and the task of finding others footballers close to them is distinctly onerous.
Predominantly known for their vast riches and exponential spending, Madrid aren’t normally known for their development of players, especially when compared to their bitter Catalan rivals Barcelona.
Luka Modric, despite being bought for around £30 million, surely considered mere pocket money for the Champions League holders, has become one of the best midfielders around.
He was very good at Spurs when he left them in August 2012, but nothing compared to the level he is playing at now. In 2013/14 La Liga season, the Croatian international had a 90% pass completion rate and the most ball recoveries of any player.
Modric owes a lot to his manager Ancelotti in becoming the player his is today, he is without doubt one of the first names on the Italian’s team sheet every week.
Considering the addition of Germany's linchpin after their recent World Cup success, there is no reason as to why Madrid can't win six trophies this season.
Tony Kroos, who signed a six-year-deal this summer, was Fifa's most complete player of the recent international tournament in Brazil recording the highest pass completion rate (85%) and covering the most ground (82.6km) of any player.
The new signing of James Rodriguez from Monaco will bolster the side massively. The Columbian was replaced by Isco towards the end of last night's match who impressed, suggesting he might have his work cut out in staying in Ancelotti's starting 11.
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