Madrid newspapers

ESPN FC's Sid Lowe explains why Gareth Bale has been an 'easy target' for the Spanish media and why he hasn't been able to produce for Real Madrid like he does with Wales.

If Gareth Bale didn't already realise just how fickle the Spanish press can be, he certainly should do when he reports back from international duty to line up for Real Madrid in La Liga against Granada on Sunday lunchtime.

Bale left Spain to join-up with Chris Coleman's Wales squad just hours after being on the end of some heavy criticism from the Spanish press. "Another big night where Bale goes missing" hissed Marca. "Bale failed again, " slammed AS, before adding that "he went unnoticed" in the second half as Madrid's title chances took a big hit with a 2-1 defeat against Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

The former Tottenham Hotspur man was the scapegoat. He had been the scapegoat long before owing to a run of nine games without a goal and eight without an assist. Some of it was deserved and, statistics aside, his seemingly lackadaisical effort on the pitch attracted the Bernabeu boo boys and it attracted stinging criticism from all corners of the Spanish press.

He left broken and left many wondering where the future would take him but he left to a place that he knew could lift him again. Bale is the man who leads Wales and he is the man who has the chance to lead his success-starved nation into their first major tournament since 1958. That inspires and it inspired Madrid's lost boy at the weekend as a 3-0 victory at Israel saw Bale find the form he has recently been missing.

The Madrid man scored twice, one a sublime free-kick, and assisted another in a comfortable win that leaves Wales top of their group and on course for qualification for Euro 2016 in France. The jet-heeled forward had pressure on his shoulders but that pressure differed from the one that greets him in the Spanish capital. This was a pressure that he thrived on, one where he was given the freedom to express himself and express himself he did.

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