Bale, Ronaldo will put friendship aside – Coleman


DINARD: There will be no love lost between Real Madrid team-mates Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo when Wales face Portugal in Wednesday’s Euro 2016 semi-final, Welsh manager Chris Coleman said on Sunday.

The clash between 26-year-old Bale, the tournament’s joint-top scorer with three goals, and Portuguese superstar Ronaldo, 31, will be the intriguing subplot to the game in Lyon.

While Coleman said that the game will be decided by several factors, he knows that the Wales number 11 and Portugal number seven will be the centre of attention.

“They’re two of the best players on the planet. They know each other very well, but I don’t suppose there will be any love lost on the evening between both teams, not just Gareth and Cristiano,” he said.

“Both teams know what’s at stake, so any friendship will have to wait until after the game. It’s us against them.”

Wales’s superb 3-1 win over Belgium in Lille on Friday took them into a major tournament semi-final for the first time.

Their chances of reaching the final may hinge on their capacity to prevent Ronaldo causing damage, but Coleman believes that Portugal will be equally anxious about facing Bale.

“In this game, it’s not like I need to pull my defenders aside and say: ‘This team we’re playing, they’ve got a guy up front and his name’s Cristiano Ronaldo and he does this, that and the other.’ Because they already know,” he said.

“But we never did that with (Belgium’s) Eden Hazard. We know about them, we know where the dangers are. I could work my defenders for the next month, drilling them about Cristiano Ronaldo.

“He still has the capacity to do something special, unstoppable. Of course that’s a danger. But we’ve got one of them as well in our team, so it balances itself out.”

Ronaldo makes no secret of his attachment to the FIFA Ballon d’Or, which he has won three times, but Coleman does not believe that the trophy is a source of motivation for Bale.

“I don’t think that is in Gareth’s head,” Coleman told a press conference at Wales’s media centre in Dinard, northwest France.

“Of course he’s a human being. Thoughts will run through his mind, but he’ll be thinking about how we perform in the next game and nothing beyond that.

“His focus will be on the next opponent and challenge and what he needs to do. That will be in his thinking more than anything else.”