On the surface, Sergio Busquets and Gareth Bale do not seem to have anything in common. While the former is widely lauded as one of the most intricate players in history, the other is one of the most explosive wingers of the modern era.
However, if we keep their outer shells aside, there are two glaring similarities. One: they were born on July 16th. And two: both of these men are serial winners, always striving to achieve the unachievable.
Gareth Bale – Real Madrid’s clutch star
Being the most expensive member of Florentino Perez’s Galactico squad, Bale was tasked to help Real Madrid to the elusive Champions League — their ‘La Decima.’
Gareth Bale took a couple of matches to settle in, of course, but the dimension he added to Real Madrid’s blistering attack was for everyone to see.
In many ways, he was Cristiano Ronaldo’s perfect mirror image on the right-wing. He had blistering pace, endless stamina, and the knack for the spectacular — the Santiago Bernabeu didn’t take much time to rally behind their newest superstar.
In his debut season itself, Gareth Bale scored one of the best goals in the history of Spanish football to beat Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final. With Cristiano Ronaldo watching from the stands, Bale proved that the Madrid attack wasn’t a one-man-show anymore.
On the final matchday of the season, Gareth Bale once again stepped up to the plate, helping Real Madrid end their 12-year-drought for the Champions League. He scored the second goal in added extra time, which practically broke Atletico Madrid’s spirit.
Four seasons and two more Champions League titles later, Gareth Bale found himself on the bench in the Champions League final against Liverpool.
Just like the previous season, Zinedine Zidane had opted for a four-man midfield, with Isco getting the nod ahead of the Welshman.
Gareth Bale, who was in fine form at the time, was hard done by his manager’s decision. Soon enough, he got the opportunity to channel his frustration and anger, produce something truly magnificent.
And on the 64th minute, he did so with an unsavable overhead kick, giving Real Madrid a 2-1 lead. 20 minutes later, he doubled his tally from a long way out, sealing the match for the Merengues.
Sergio Busquets – Barcelona’s midfield enforcer
Gareth Bale’s birthday-twin, Sergio Busquets, isn’t as easily quantifiable. Neither does he score goals regularly nor does he provide pin-point assists.
Yet, without his presence, Barcelona wouldn’t have managed to be the team they are today, enjoy the successes that they did.
Former Real Madrid boss, Vicente del Bosque praised the midfielder by saying,
“If you watch the whole game, you won’t see Busquets—but watch Busquets, and you will see the whole game.”
And we believe, no other definition would fit him better.
Usually deployed in the defensive midfield position, Sergio Busquets takes pride in dictating the tempo of the game. Despite being one of the slowest players in his position, Busquests is almost never outpaced.
The Spaniard doesn’t need physical attributes to intercept and cut passing lanes. He does those effectively with his game reading and positional sense.
Barcelona have always been dependent on Sergio Busquets’ intelligence to get out of tricky situations, and needed the midfielder to come out on top when outnumbered.
Busquets’ resistance to press, vision to pick out the most well-placed team-mates, and ability to command the middle of the pitch make him one of Barcelona’s irreplaceable assets — a player they can’t seem to do without.
Both Gareth Bale and Sergio Busquets have awarded fans with countless moments of euphoria. They have helped Real Madrid and Barcelona to some priceless trophies, aided the rivalry to grow fiercer.
Bale and Busquets may not be the showstoppers everyone swoons over, but they have been just as important to their club. Both Bale (31) and Busquets (32) don’t have age on their side, but we are still hoping to see something spectacular before they decide to call it a day.
It’s been a privilege seeing Bale and Busquets dominate the game, week in and out. And on their birthday, we can only pray to see more of the same over the next couple of seasons.
Happy birthday, Gareth and Sergio; thank you for enriching football, for making it more refined than we’d hoped it’d be.
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