The final el clásico of the year. A one-off match for the Copa del Rey trophy. A trophy-starved Barça's last legitimate shot for silverware. Star man Cristiano Ronaldo out with an injury. And in the middle of all this, newcomer Gareth Bale decided he'd just outrun everyone.
Just look at this thing. Fabio Coentrão picks up the ball deep in Barcelona territory and flicks a pass to Bale. Bale looks up, sees the speedy center back Marc Bartra ahead of him, and decides to do the a thing that maybe he, Ronaldo, and God Himself alone in the world could get away with, which is thump the ball on a good 35 yards, take a circling, languorous path around, yards outside the ball—one that will also let him run at the goal as soon as he reestablishes contact—and beat his defender to the spot.
Normally, a defender would call Bale's bluff here, especially since Bartra was a couple yards away when Bale takes his first touch. Against anyone else, Bartra would easily reach the ball before the attacker and shepherd it away to a teammate. But this is Gareth Bale, who might be the fastest man alive.
To protect himself, Bartra tries to immediately attack Bale and commit a tactical foul and keep him off the ball. But Bale is too fast even to be fouled. Again, Bartra is a fast kid. This season he's shown the value of a quick, committed defender in the Barça setup, and has even played fullback in the past. Even he is no match for Bale, who straight jets on by and pokes the ball underneath Pinto (who I must note, should have saved this goal, the first one today, and the all-important Diego one in the Champions League, but I'm trying to be a good sport) to put Madrid ahead.
Okay. Now there can really, really be no argument about Bale's standing in Madrid.