La Liga: Bale scores, but Ronaldo still rules

La Liga: Bale scores, but Ronaldo still rules

Both men stood over a free-kick, outside the box, slightly to the left. This was their territory.

Even though the strike had been on the run, Gareth Bale had scored from a similar position against West Ham last season. He owned this space in a Tottenham jersey. But he's no longer the Lone Ranger.

At Real Madrid, he plays Tonto to Cristiano Ronaldo. There was only going to be one shooter. With his legs spread in characteristically belligerent fashion, Ronaldo took aim, his pistol cocked. There might be a new sheriff in town, but the Portuguese still holds the badge.

In the 17th minute, Ronaldo's set-piece flew high and wide against Villarreal, but the point had been made. Bale might have scored on his debut in the 2-2 draw on Sunday morning (Singapore time), but Ronaldo still rules.

The crown rests easily on the gelled head of the Portuguese puppeteer. If Bale wants anything close to the omnipotence he craved - and earned - at White Hart Lane, he's going to have to take it. Ronaldo gives away nothing.

He even scored in the second half, after an exhausted Bale was substituted, just to underline the point he made so decisively at the free-kick. The new boy has scored one goal in one game. Ronaldo has 203 in 203.

Ronaldo looked across at the bench after matching Bale's first-half effort and one could practically hear him saying: "Impressive, most impressive, but you are not a Jedi yet."

Their evolving relationship promises to be one of the most intriguing in modern football.

Ronaldo needs Bale, even if he may not necessarily want him. In a recent interview, Rio Ferdinand said he has never come across a teenager more determined - and more serious - in his quest to become the world's greatest player than Ronaldo at Manchester United.

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