Feb 25, 2013, 5:32 PM EDT
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.
Jun 18, 2013, 3:30 PM EDT
Our weekly re-ordering of Major League Soccer teams, following 16 rounds of play:
Jun 18, 2013, 2:05 PM EDT
Some of the best U.S. success in the past has come when the United States was backed into a corner. Tonight looks much different:
Jun 18, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT
There are a few choices to be made ahead of Tuesday’s match in Utah:
Jun 18, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT
Unsaid in this narrative is this: most U.S. sites are bright and alive these days.
Jun 18, 2013, 11:06 AM EDT
Stuart Pearce has been relieved of his duties as manager of England’s U-21 squad.
Jun 18, 2013, 9:34 AM EDT
Australia join Brazil and Japan as nations that already have booked their place in next summer’s World Cup.
Jun 18, 2013, 7:56 AM EDT
Hearts have put the entire squad up for sale to raise the reported £500,000 needed to get the club to the start of the season.
Jun 18, 2013, 12:10 AM EDT
Brazil has infrastructure concerns. They’ve also spent $3.3 billion on soccer stadia. No surprise, people aren’t happy.
Jun 17, 2013, 10:43 PM EDT
The mythology of Ajax, Dutch soccer and one stars’ struggles outside the Dutch league make this potential transfer difficult to evaluate.
Jun 17, 2013, 8:23 PM EDT
It’s only a matter of time before Ancelotti’s holding pattern’s resolved.
Jun 17, 2013, 7:39 PM EDT
It’s early days, but while City close the gap, Manchester United have yet to act.
Jun 17, 2013, 6:51 PM EDT
With a buy-out in his contract, Villas-Boas likely will be given a choice between Paris and London.
Jun 17, 2013, 5:59 PM EDT
Steve Bruce reunites with a player he brought to Wigan Athletic.
Jun 17, 2013, 5:19 PM EDT
Tahiti are a great story, but nobody wins when small countries get slaughtered by the world’s top teams.
Jun 17, 2013, 3:55 PM EDT
The U.S. midfielder has successfully completed the concussion recovery protocol:
Jun 17, 2013, 3:38 PM EDT
So just how serious are PSG? Word has it they’re ready to break the Premier League transfer record.
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