Gareth Bale is key for Real Madrid under Rafael Benitez

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When you first look at the score-sheet of Espanyol vs Real Madrid you will see that Cristiano Ronaldo scored five goals and Karim Benzema the other in their 6-0 win. Yet it will not detail how involved Gareth Bale was in almost everything good that Madrid produced throughout the proceedings.

Bale was massively criticised last season under Carlo Ancelotti for failing to produce some of his match-winning displays that he made during his debut season in Spain.

Bale was often left too wide in the last campaign and didn't get enough of the ball. With Bale being deployed behind the striker, as well as having the freedom to drift wide to provide for the likes of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Welshman has been promised that he will become an integral member of the team under new boss Benitez.  


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This is a similar position to when he played under Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham, and the result seems to have a more positive effect on the team.

Obviously the quality of the opposition has been somewhat lacking, with harder tests to come, starting with Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Atletico showdown 

In the league, we are not going to see any real test for Benitez's side until early next month when they play Atletico Madrid in the Vincente Calderon, but it is so far so good for Los Blancos.

Of course, there will be sterner tests for Madrid than that of Espanyol, who simply gave Ronaldo and Bale far too much space. Bale's at his most dangerous when there is green grass ahead of him, as seen when he was brought down inside the box early in the first-half.

Atletico will not allow the Welshman any space to exploit, yet perhaps we will see a new player - a player full of confidence, having finally been accepted by the Real Madrid faithful.

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