Feb 25, 2013, 5:32 PM EST
Every once in a while a player finds the ultimate groove. The sweetest of sweet spots. The final gear.
(A preciously select few dwell in that universe, but we’re talking Leo Messi-level here, and we know those are few and far between.)
Gareth Bale has nailed the sweet spot. He is truly something to behold right now, as close as anyone ever comes to creating some accuracy in the old broadcaster descriptive fallback “unstoppable.”
Bale’s first goal in Tottenham’s thrilling 3-2 London derby win Monday over West Ham was a fine piece of EPL marksmanship.
His second was just ridiculous. It was one of those where you say, “At some point, it’s not even fair.”
Jussi Jaaskelainen was in beast mode, turning away more than his share in West Ham goal, holding back Bale and Tottenham in the second half. It was going to take something special to beat the guy – and Bale delivered. His pinpoint flier from close to 30 yards curled away from and then fell perfectly behind Jaaskelainen.
(The goal is below … so long as the video avoids the ol’ internet drop zone)
Bale’s 90th minute goal was as important as it was gracefully stunning, providing Spurs with all three points and allowing the club to leapfrog Chelsea into third place.
The backstory here is in what Bale is doing now to establish himself as the prize of the upcoming transfer window. Now with six goals in 2013, no EPL man has more.
Thing is, this transfer tree has two big branches. His value as a target for elite European clubs keeps rising. Meanwhile, as Bale drives Tottenham further up the table – and make no mistake, the man is so good right now that he is driving the Tottenham bus – Spurs man of the moment could be giving himself a reason to remain at White Hart Lane.
The top three EPL spots are guaranteed Champions League spots for 2013-14. (Fourth place gets into the qualifying round.) As of today, Bale could remain right where he is and experience Champions League greatness next year. (Clint Dempsey, too – and this is why Dempsey worked so hard to get out of Fulham, because he, too, was so desirous of tasting Champions League fruit.)
The back, back story here is in how important it must be for Bale to get into Champions League – and possibly into a team that has more than a puncher’s chance of ever winning the thing.
See, he’s Welsh. He is unlikely to ever get to a World Cup without a ticket in the stands, just like the rest of us. Champions League glory would be the pinnacle of his career, team achievement-wise.
Dec 21, 2014, 4:05 PM EST
Sunderland winger Adam Johnson on game-winner and Tyne-Wear derby triumphs: “Three years in a row, they must hate me here!”
Dec 21, 2014, 3:39 PM EST
Brendan Rodgers gives his thoughts after a 2-2 draw despite what he called “dominance” on the ball.
Dec 21, 2014, 3:12 PM EST
With polarizing halves separating the teams, Arsene Wenger said a draw was the correct result based on performance.
Dec 21, 2014, 2:29 PM EST
Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to bring a grudge with him to Morocco.
Dec 21, 2014, 1:44 PM EST
With Newcastle yielding late, Alan Pardew thinks he may have left his team a little too exposed as the clock ticked towards the final minute.
Dec 21, 2014, 1:08 PM EST
Martin Skrtel returned from a nasty injury and took full advantage of the resulting stopptage time.
Dec 21, 2014, 11:58 AM EST
A day to forget for the American central defender in Germany’s top flight.
Dec 21, 2014, 10:26 AM EST
The boyhood Newcastle fan scored at St. James Park for the third year in a row as Sunderland stole the Tyne-Wear derby late.
Dec 21, 2014, 10:16 AM EST
Raheem Sterling looks to be the lone attacking option for Liverpool as Brendan Rodgers has left both his available strikers on the bench.
Dec 21, 2014, 8:52 AM EST
A magnetizing first touch leads to a meaningless but nonetheless beautiful goal by the man who gives us magic weekly.
Dec 21, 2014, 7:53 AM EST
The heated Tyne-Wear derby has brought us goals and fireworks of many kinds, and will be no different today as Sunderland looks to win four in a row over Newcastle for the first time ever.
Dec 20, 2014, 10:54 PM EST
Howard doesn’t think Lampard will start the MLS season with NYCFC, although he says he should.
Dec 20, 2014, 9:51 PM EST
Doneil Henry is reportedly close to joining West Ham, which is a surprise, to say the least.
Dec 20, 2014, 8:46 PM EST
After logging lots of miles the last 16 months, Raheem Sterling is going to get a short rest very soon.
Dec 20, 2014, 8:04 PM EST
NYCFC won’t be calling the Bronx home, but they’re still hopeful a deal can be done elsewhere in the city.
Dec 20, 2014, 7:13 PM EST
Arsene Wenger says he’s not cheap, and that you should join him for a night out if you don’t believe him.
Dec 20, 2014, 5:56 PM EST
Barcelona are keeping things tight in Spain, while Roma are losing sight of Juventus once again.
Dec 20, 2014, 4:33 PM EST
Four trophies in one calendar year — it’s a good time to be Real Madrid.
Dec 20, 2014, 3:42 PM EST
After collapsing on the field in a game back in July 2013, Engelbrecht had undergone four heart surgeries to get back on the pitch.
Dec 20, 2014, 3:16 PM EST
Things are going to be extra intense all Sunday morning, so put on a pot of coffee and enjoy the rush.
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