Barcelona and Real Madrid meet on Sunday in another El Clasico showdown full of subplots and intriguing individual battles.
Aside from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, four other world class attackers will be on show at the Nou Camp, and among them is former Tottenham Hotspur ace Gareth Bale.
The Wales international experienced a dream debut season after trading Spurs for the Spanish capital in 2013, helping Madrid win both the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League with decisive goals.
However, this season, in contrast, has been a struggle for Bale as Madrid’s recent poor form has seen the White Hart Lane idol subjected to jeers and whistles inside the Santiago Bernabeu.
Bale outclassed Neymar last season but according to the stats in the table below, the same can’t be said of the current campaign as the latter comes out on top in a number of key areas.
|Goals||Assists||Shots per Goal||Key Passes per Game||Take-ons per Game||Fouled per Game||Pass Success % per Game||Appearances|
The Brazilian ace has 17 La Liga goals to his name so far this season, five more than Bale and eight more than his tally for the entire previous campaign.
Furthermore, the 23-year-old is shown to be far more clinical than Bale and more efficient in his dribbles, recording more take-ons and winning more free-kicks on average per match.
The criticism aimed at Bale is harsh considering what he has helped the club achieve in the past 18 months, and his performances this season haven’t exactly been bad.
The former Southampton academy product has 12 goals to his name, five assists, plus a higher average number of key passes in the final third than Neymar.
However, he has been heavily criticised for often picking the wrong option and his media-proclaimed greediness is causing him to earn a bad reputation.
Still, his ability is evident and after finding the net twice during Madrid’s 2-0 win over Levante last weekend, he heads to the Nou Camp with an eagerness to hit the headlines for all of the right reasons.