Real Madrid are missing their top goal-scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, in the Copa del Rey final and many will ask whether record-signing, Gareth Bale, can step out of Ronaldo’s shadow tonight.
Ronaldo is the top scorer in La Liga with 28 goals in 27 games. He is the club’s top scorer in the Champions League with 14 goals in just eight games and the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey with three goals this season.
But despite these impressive numbers, statistically Real are no worse off without him this season. They have won eight of the nine games without him scoring 28 times, with the only defeat coming against Dortmund – a game which they entered with a three-goal advantage.
Does this mean that other players like Gareth Bale step up their game when Ronaldo is not around? The stats prove the Welshman has been flourishing when the Portuguese is side-lined.
Bale has scored eight goals in as many games when playing without Ronaldo, but 'only' scored 11 in 30 games when Ronaldo has played. Statistically Bale is three times more likely to score against Barcelona tonight.
Bale’s overall number of 19 goals and 18 assists in all competitions this season is respectable for his first season in Spain, but there is another truth to Bale’s numbers.
The 24-year-old has not yet delivered the goods when it has really mattered. In Real’s four biggest games this season – both La Liga ties against Atletico Madrid and Barcelona – Bale has produced no goals and just one assist.
This suspicion Bale goes missing in the big games is backed up by the fact that his 14 La Liga goals have come against weak opposition in games which Real won with a goal difference of 43-7. Indeed, in eight of the 10 fixtures in which he has scored, Real ended up winning by at least three goals.
In addition, Bale has not yet scored a winner for his new team or credited with a goal or assist in any of their four league defeats.
Can Gareth Bale stop this trend and step out of Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow in one the biggest games of the season tonight? Have your say in the comment section below.