Gareth Bale has targeted Champions League and La Liga double glory as he prepares to start the season in his native Cardiff. Wales star Bale will be part of a formidable Real Madrid strikeforce when the UEFA Champions League holders meet UEFA Europa League winners Sevilla in the Super Cup at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday night.
Madrid signed FIFA World Cup™ sensation James Rodriguez from Monaco for £63m this summer and the Colombian will join Bale, FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in the Madrid forward line at Cardiff. That firepower has convinced many pundits Madrid will become the first club to successfully defend European football’s greatest prize in the Champions League era after their tenth title last season.
“Every season we want to win every trophy we’re in for,” Bale told a pre-match press conference in Cardiff. “We’ll be trying our best to win the Champions League and the Spanish League again. It’s great to be back home but the most important thing is to win the game and the cup.
“We need to focus on that and not on me playing in my home town. It was a great season last year winning trophies, but the most important thing now is to win the Super Cup and it doesn’t matter who scores the winning goal. We’ll work hard again to try and try to win the trophy.”
A year ago Bale was waiting to complete his £86m world record transfer from Tottenham Hotspur and the winger admitted he took time to settle at the Bernabeu after missing out on pre-season. But the 25-year-old insists he is in peak fitness at the start of this campaign, although he denied press reports that he had put on muscle.
“I haven’t done anything,” said Bale. “I’ve done a bit of training in the off-season, a bit of running. It was just pure conditioning training, I’ve worked hard in the off-season and feel in good shape. I’ve had a good pre-season and settled in. It’s nice not being the new boy, that’s been good.
“It’s a lot easier having pre-season under your belt rather than waiting for a transfer to go through. I feel in better shape and can start the season with a better tempo. I don’t feel pressure of being back home, it’s another game and another one I have to put 110 per cent in to perform at my best.”
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti believes Bale will have an even greater impact for Madrid this season after a debut campaign where he scored 22 goals in 40 appearances and also netted in the Champions League final victory over neighbors Atletico Madrid.
“Gareth had a fantastic season last year without pre-season and to be in condition took time,” Ancelotti said. “This season is different, he knows the atmosphere, his team-mates and club and I’m sure he will be better this season.
“He is in perfect condition physically and mentally and I’m sure will do better. He is one of the best players in the world, he is happy here and plays to help the team win titles.”
The former Chelsea manager then joked he was not sure whether Bale would even play in his home city against Spanish rivals Sevilla.
“I don’t know if he will play,” he said. “People say ‘back home, back home’, but he could start on bench. No, Gareth and James will both play.”