Wales, Portugal clash isn’t about Ronaldo and me: Bale

Lyon, July 5 (IANS) Wales star Gareth Bale says Wednesday’s Eurpoean football Championship semi-final against Portugal isn’t only a face off between him and Real Madrid team mate Cristiano Ronaldo and the Chris Coleman-coached outfit was a threat to any team.

Bale and Portugal’s talisman Ronaldo have spent three seasons together at Real but reports suggest the duo do not get along well.

However, Bale insisted they share a strong bond and the semi-final tie will be a high voltage battle between two solid teams.

“It’s not about two players, everybody knows that, it’s about two nations, 11 men versus 11 men,” Bale was quoted as saying by goal.com on Tuesday.

“It will be a very different game, they’re in the semis for a reason but we’ll enjoy the occasion as we have done.

“(Ronaldo is) a fantastic player, everybody knows what he can do, but we speak about what we can do as a team.

“The teams we’ve played had very good individuals, but it’s about how we perform as a team and by doing that we can shut out a lot of threats.”

The 26-year-old said he believes all of his compatriots are stars and they need to play well as a unit to reach the the final of the quadrennial event.

“The star in our team is all of us. We are all together, we all work as one, running for each other, tackling for each other. We get on like brothers and we’re having fun, enjoying the occasion, with no fear. It’s working so far,” he said.

Ronaldo was recently criticised after he blasted Iceland for having a “small mentality” and threw a reporter’s microphone in a lake but Bale refrained from commenting on the Portugal captain’s state of mind.

“I’m not too sure (if Ronaldo is feeling tense), I can’t comment on what he’s feeling. I’m sure he had his reasons for doing what he did,” Bale remarked.

“I feel comfortable and we’re enjoying ourselves. Sometimes you have to fulfil your responsibilities and doing interviews is a part of it.”

“We get on well at Madrid and we enjoy playing with each other. I’m not sure what he does off the pitch, that’s his private life. It’s not for me to decide who’s the better player. If I can help Wales win that’s all I need.”

The Real Madrid winger asserted that he would like to meet Germany in the final and give a befitting reply to critics who had inisted that Wales are not good enough for the big stage.

Bale appeared to be particularly riled by comments from Real Madrid and Germany midflielder Toni Kroos, who had remarked that Wales will not progress beyond the group stage.

“I remember Toni Kroos saying we’d only have three games here. So it would be nice to meet him in the final. It was a good laugh and a joke – a bit of banter — but I’ve had a lot of abuse over the years,” Bale said.

“When we used to lose and we were 100th in the world, people would say, ‘You have nine weeks’ holiday instead of two’. So it’s great to finally be in a major tournament actually doing great things with our national team,” he added.

“We felt we could beat the big teams and we have grown from there. We learned a lot from the first two games against Slovakia and England, we have really progressed since then and got a lot more confident.”

The Wales talisman pointed out that other unfancied teams have become champions of Europe in the past — most notably Denmark in 1992 and Greece in 2004 — and asserted that his team will also strive to script a similar feat.

“We’ve obviously exceeded a lot of people’s expectations, we understand that. But we always believed we could go all the way — you see the fairytale of Greece and Denmark in the past and you think, ‘Why can’t we do it?’,” he said.

–IANS

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