On Thursday, Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale made headlines after scoring a magnificent brace to help Wales beat Austria in the FIFA World Cup qualifying playoffs. It’s worth noting that his outstanding performance came only days after he had ruled himself out of El Clasico.
Bale had been included in Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti’s roster for last Sunday’s match against Barcelona, but the player withdrew on Sunday morning, citing a mystery “niggle.” However, he declared himself fit to play for Wales just a few days later and was rather excellent against Austria.
Bale scored the game’s first goal with a free kick from 25 yards out, evoking memories of his glory days with Real Madrid. It was a brilliant shot that climbed the Austrian wall before landing in the net’s upper corner.
In the second half, he extended the advantage before Austria scored a consolation goal. Bale’s brace was enough to advance Wales to the play-off finals, where they will meet the winner of the Scotland-Ukraine match, which has been postponed for the time being.
Despite missing most of the season with Real Madrid, the Welshman looks fully fit. He has only made four appearances under Carlo Ancelotti and was expected to have been given minutes during El Clasico in the absence of Karim Benzema due to injury.
His attention, on the other hand, was definitely focused on Wales, as he stated in an interview with Marca prior to the encounter against Austria. “This game, this qualification, is all I’m thinking about right now. “I’m not thinking about anything else right now because there’s still a lot to play for,” he said, adding, “This demands all of my concentration and focus, all of my preparation over the previous several months.” I’m only focused on the game right now, and then we’ll see where we go from there.”