La Liga: Match made in Real heaven

There hasn't been an artistic line-up this exciting since John Lennon sat down with Paul McCartney and played harmonica on Love Me Do.

With Gareth Bale on the left, Cristiano Ronaldo on the right, Isco in the middle and Karim Benzema up front, Real Madrid boast more attacking intent than the Expendables.

The fickle notion that Bale and Ronaldo are somehow incompatible and the Portuguese winger is perturbed by the arrival of the Welsh wonder is not borne out by the duo's unparalleled pedigree.

Lennon once said: "I'm an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I'll bring you something out of it."

Pass Bale and Ronaldo a flat ball and a couple of pairs of second-hand boots and they'll make Harry Potter and his magic wand look like a street-hustling fraudster.

Put them in a football team that thrive on the alchemy of artistry and celebrity and they promise to be a double-act beyond compare.

Their similarities are as striking as they are startling. Both flourished when the relative shackles of being tied to the touchline were removed by farsighted managers.

Harry Redknapp loves the dinner party anecdote about his initial scepticism concerning the skinny kid from Cardiff - and in the former Spurs manager's defence, Bale went 24 Premier League games before chalking up a first victory - but his role in the winger's revolution cannot be understated.

A former winger himself, Redknapp released Bale from his defensive duties, shoved him further up the field and Inter Milan suffered the consequences in those legendary Champions League encounters.

Andre Villas-Boas then went one better. Not only did he cut the ties that bound Bale to the byeline, he granted him the freedom of White Hart Lane.

Whether by accident or design, AVB's injury crisis last season convinced him to offer Bale a No. 10 role. He roamed wherever he fancied.

From such a position of prominence, he destroyed the likes of Aston Villa, West Brom and, most memorably, West Ham almost single-handedly.

From isolated winger to inspirational wunder-kid, Bale followed a well-worn path to glory. He skipped alongside Ronaldo's footsteps.

At Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson allowed Ronaldo to change wings more times than a clumsy angel in a school play to free his creative tour de force and disorientate the opposition.

And Jose Mourinho hardly tried to put jack back in the box. The former Real Madrid manager is still accused of killing the club softly with his stifling tactics and deeply entrenched conservatism.

But he never applied the brakes to Ronaldo. He wouldn't dare.

In line with the popular terrace chant, Ronaldo and Bale scored when they liked and played where they liked.

Tall, quick and remarkably tough, the wingers are blessed with weapons of mass destruction in both feet and the artistic finesse of a Renaissance painter.

They bludgeon like butchers and pirouette with the perfection of a prima ballerina.

Improvisation is the greatest trick in their box so the idea that they are incompatible is a silly as the suggestion that Carlo Ancelotti will be left red-faced by an embarrassment of riches.

He managed to accommodate the talents - and massage the egos - of Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro del Piero, Zinedine Zidane and David Trezeguet at Juventus.

While over at Milan, the wily Italian had to make do with Andriy Shevchenko, Clarence Seedorf, Hernan Crespo and a rising kid called Kaka.


Bringing together such celestial super-beings is a managerial challenge, no doubt, but probably not one similar to the one faced by Steve Bruce in trying to get Hull City to Christmas without a decent striker.

Ronaldo dribbles, feints, steals, passes, crosses, shoots and scores from the left, the right and the middle. So does Bale. Ronaldo scored 34 goals in La Liga playing for a superior team; Bale managed 21 EPL goals in a comparatively average side. Their shots and key passing stats are also similar.

Their impressive figures would've been higher still had it not been for pesky opponents confusing themselves for WWE wrestlers and forever tag teaming. If Ronaldo sneezes in La Liga, three man-markers catch a cold.

Last season, Bale knew how Ronaldo felt.

He was followed by more shadows than Cliff Richard in his prime.

But Ronaldo favours the right, Bale leans towards the left. Opponents will be caught between a rock and a hard place. Ronaldo is no longer the only go-to guy. Real Madrid can divide and conquer.

Both men are equally adept with either foot; leaving defenders twisting and shouting by cutting inside from either flank. The only man at Madrid who will dribble more this season will be Ancelotti when he pencils in their names.

Mesut Oezil (if he stays at Real) might prove to be the unfortunate sacrificial lamb, but there will be no silencing Bale or Ronaldo.

They are not a selection headache. They are a kid's dream team; a PlayStation line-up leaping from the bedroom TV to the Bernabeu.

If form and fitness favour both men, Bale and Ronaldo could make fantasy football a reality.

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