Carlo Ancelotti hands out rebuke to Gareth Bale’s agent
Real Madrid coach responds angrily to suggestion team-mates aren’t passing to player
A dejected Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo head back to the centre circle after Juventus score during the Champions League semi-final first leg in Turin. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Bale, the focus of debate for much of a difficult season, came in for particular criticism after Real were defeated 2-1 by Juventus in Turin last week. Statistics showed that Bale had only touched the ball 27 times, completed just 17 passes and had no shots or assists. But his representative Jonathan Barnett focused on other statistics that revealed Bale had covered a greater distance than anyone else – statistics he said “vindicated” the Welshman.
“Real have to work with Gareth and pass the ball to him more. He’s going to be the best player at Real Madrid when his team-mates work with him and help him. Hopefully Real will come to terms with this” Barnett told The Daily Telegraph. “It’s plain to see when you watch the games.”
The data reveal that to be true, even if the interpretation as to why is a more complex issue. According to the sports newspaper AS, Isco has given 141 passes to Cristiano Ronaldo, 76 to Karim Benzema and 66 to Bale; Rodríguez has given 123 passes to Ronaldo, 79 to Benzema and 37 to Bale; and Toni Kroos has given 98 passes to Ronaldo, 79 to Benzema and 54 to Bale.
Of the regular midfielders, only Bale’s former Spurs team-mate Luka Modric has given him more passes than the other two members of the forward line, delivering 54 balls to Bale, 48 to Ronaldo and 22 to Benzema.
United When the issue was raised here, on the eve of Real’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Juventus, Rodríguez replied: “I hadn’t heard anything [about Barnett’s comments], it’s the first I’d heard. We all want to play with him, and not just him – with Cris
tiano [Ronaldo], with Chicharito, with many more. This is a team and we all have to be united. Whatever is said outside, I can’t have an opinion.”
If the Colombian would not be drawn, Ancelotti was. “This is a world where lots of people talk . . . and sometimes they speak too much,” said the Real coach. “[Bale’s] agent spoke but he has never come to see a training session, he doesn’t know our atmosphere, he speaks from the outside.
“Bale has never had problems with his team mates, they have never had problems with him; the squad love Bale, Bale loves the squad. Then, someone says a word too much. He could have kept quiet; that would have been better.”
Ancelotti added: “I have spoken to Gareth. He is really happy to stay here.
“He has had a good season, we’re very happy with him. Last season, he scored in the important moments: in the finals [of the Copa del Rey and the Champions League] and other [big] matches. It could be that he may have the same opportunity now.”
“Opportunity” was the word. For the coach, at least. Madrid stand 90 minutes from a second consecutive Champions League final, the chance as Ancelotti put it to “make history”, but problems, not promise, dominated the buildup to this meeting with Juventus.
“Sometimes you understand whistling, sometimes you don’t,” Ancelotti said. “Everyone feels it when they whistle one of our players. But on the other hand I understand that Casillas has experience, he is used to it, it won’t affect him; it will motivate him even more. And tomorrow is different: all of the fans know how important this game is.” Guardian Service