Gareth Bale on Thursday lifted Tottenham to a 2-1 Europa League Round of 32 first-leg victory at home to French giant Olympique Lyon thanks to two spectacular free-kicks, both of which were taken in the style of Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo. In an interview with British soccer Web site Life’s a Pitch, which was published just ahead of his Ronaldo-esque heroics on Thursday, the left-footed Welshman acknowledged that he’s been practicing the Real forward’s free-kick technique.
“I’ve been practicing it for quite a while; a couple of seasons,” the 23-year-old said. “Everybody knows what Cristiano Ronaldo has done with his free kicks – the way he hits the ball, the style he does it in – and it’s working for him. A lot of players are now trying it out and, thankfully, it’s started to pay off for me, as I’ve scored three goals like it this season.” Make that five after last night’s win against Lyon, which by the way, is three more free-kick goals than Ronaldo has scored for Real so far this season.
Bale, who noted that the technique “does take a while to master,” made it clear during the interview that he admires the Portuguese more than any other player, including four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi: “[Ronaldo has] got the whole package,” he said. “He’s strong, he’s powerful, he’s pacey, can head the ball, strike the ball. Obviously, you can’t say anything bad about Messi, but for the all-round complete footballer, I’d say Cristiano Ronaldo.”