Gareth’s greatest free kicks

Gareth Bale has developed into a more than able free kick taker in his football career. Bale possesses fantastic power and technique, as some of these videos below, will show you, and will be keen to show off more of his skills in the upcoming 2015/16 La Liga season.

The 26 year old been slotting them over for close to a decade now- as a youngster for Southampton, as an emerging star at Tottenham, as a big name signing in Europe for Real Madrid, and of course on the international stage for Wales.

Here are five of Bale’s best ever free kicks (with Youtube videos embedded)

Southampton v Derby County 2006

Chances are, this was the first time that Premier League scouts were alerted to the talents of this precocious 17 year old. Bale had made his first team debut for the Saints at the end of the 2005-06 season but at the start of the new campaign, he made his name on the South Coast with this unstoppable set piece.

The game finished in an otherwise forgettable 2-2 draw but Bale’s curled effort from the right edge of the box left the keeper with no chance and Southampton fans had a new favourite. From this point onwards, Premier League teams would have been heading down to St Mary’s to see what all the fuss was about.

Wales v Slovakia 2006

Bale’s free kick goal in this game looks very similar to his debut strike for the Saints both in terms of pace, trajectory and its position on the pitch. Once again, however, it’s remarkable when you consider just how young Gareth was and the maturity shown in taking responsibility and smashing an unstoppable drive into the net is just incredible.

The goal didn’t do much to rescue a struggling Welsh side who went down 5-1 in this Euro 2008 qualifier but it made him the youngest player to score for the full national team and it helped enhance a growing reputation.

Spurs v Lyon 2013

Gareth endured a difficult start to his career at White Hart Lane as injury and sub-par performances from the left back position led to reports that manager Harry Redknapp was trying to offload the player to Birmingham City. However, from the moment that the Welshman completed his incredible Champions League hat trick against Inter Milan, it was all that Spurs could do to keep him at the club.

Technically there are six free kicks in this list with these two coming in the same match – a Europa League tie against Lyon. Both drew comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo in their technique and execution – the incredible swerve and dip leaving the opposing stopper helpless.As a result, Bale single-handedly kept Tottenham – who were rapidly becoming a one man team – in the competition.

Real Madrid v Galatasaray 2013

Having been unchallenged as a free kick taker throughout his career, Bale had to suddenly take second place behind CR7. This effort, in a tense Champions League tie, proved that he could accept that challenge.

Viewed from behind the ball, it looks at one point that the effort will clear the bar but trademark dip and swerve combine to produce another memorable strike.

Real Madrid v Espanyol 2015

We’ve seen free kicks that marked some notable milestones in Gareth Bale’s career but which was the best? Perhaps this effort against Espanyol could be a contender as it crashes in off the right hand post and certainly for placement, this is tough to beat.

It was a difficult second season at Real Madrid for the Welshman but barring any late and unexpected drama in the transfer window, Bale will be back at the Bernabeu for the 2015-16 campaign. Despite the change of managers, Real remain La Liga title favourites due to their famed BBC trio (Bale, Benzema and Cristiano), but it’s an important campaign for both Bale and the club.

If Bale gets a regular opportunity to take free kicks this season, some of his deadly set pieces will definitely help him to win over the Real faithful once again.

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