Madrid's 'Dos Torpedos' set for Europe limelight

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

Bale and Ronaldo were both on target in Real's draw with Villarreal.GettyImagesCan Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo shoot Real Madrid to glory?

For Cristiano Ronaldo, normal service will resume in Istanbul on Tuesday night as Real Madrid open their Champions League campaign at Turkish champions Galatasaray.

The media were gathered for Gareth Bale at El Madrigal on Saturday night as the Welshman made his long-anticipated debut for Los Merengues and duly got on the scoresheet in a 2-2 draw against Villarreal. Ronaldo walked through the mixed zone after the match as the support act for the second part of Madrid's 'Dos Torpedos', as the Spanish press have christened the Bale-Ronaldo attacking threat -- something the Portuguese isn't used to, and isn't likely to get used to, either.

-Bale may not be in starting XI vs. Gala
-Ancelotti targets 'La Decima'
-Carvajal: 'Bittersweet' night at El Madrigal

As it was, Bale walked past the press pack with his head down and headed straight for the team bus without muttering a word, but Cristiano let Madrid's new-boy have his day. Probably because he knew he'd be "top of the food chain again", as Marca put it in Sunday's edition, less than 24 hours later. The dust had barely settled on Bale's debut when Ronaldo took stage with Florentino Perez on Sunday morning to announce a blockbuster new deal.

The new contract that will keep him at the club for another five years, until 2018, and on the biggest wages in world football.

In Spain, the claim is Ronaldo is still the world's most expensive footballer. In England, the claim is Bale now tops that list. Regardless, Ronaldo is now the world's best-paid player. An annual salary of 17 million euros -- 1 million more than his nemesis, Lionel Messi. Safe to say Ronaldo is "really happy", so happy he said it twice at the press conference.

You wouldn't be far wrong in suggesting Madrid planned the press conference to ensure Ronaldo continues to feel he's the top dog at the Bernabeu. Bale's arrival threatened that, thanks to the fee involved and some sections of the press have looked to architect a Bale-vs.-Ronaldo battle inside the club.

Putting pen-to-paper on a huge new deal on Sunday morning was probably a bit of a masterstroke from Perez. Bale is not one to hog the limelight like Ronaldo.

So with Bale now on board and Ronaldo having pledged his future, possibly until the end of his career, the off-the-pitch circus can subdue and the on-the-pitch talking can resume. Istanbul is the stage for that to kickoff.

If Bale felt pressure on his debut at Villarreal, that will be nothing to the pressure the squad will be under in Turkey. From a match point of view, with Galatasaray's home support notoriously vociferous and unwelcoming, and from a competition point of view. The Welshman will, undoubtedly, know all about Madrid's relationship with the European Cup and the desire for a 10th triumph.

He's proved he can cut it at the top, with a hat trick and man-of-the-match performance for Tottenham Hotspur in their 4-3 loss to Inter Milan at the San Siro three years ago. Bale shone all through Spurs' European venture, which ended against Madrid, and he'll be eager to turn that venture into a more prolonged career in the greatest club competition in the world.

For Ronaldo, it's the chance to press on with his dream of lifting "La Decima" with Madrid, something that should also give him a great chance of finally winning the Ballon d'Or again. His new five-year deal should make him the longest-serving "Galactico" in the Perez era and should also see him overtake Raul as the club's record scorer. He'll be chasing Raul's record goal haul in Europe, too, starting Tuesday.

Madrid knocked out the Turks in the knockout stages last season, but Galatasaray showed they're a different animal on home soil. Los Blancos cruised to a 3-0 first-leg lead thanks to a commanding performance at the Bernabeu, but Fatih Terim's men gave Jose Mourinho and Co. a real scare at the Türk Telekom Arena, winning 3-2 in a thriller.

It may have been a case of thinking the job was already done in April, but the group stages of the competition should leave Madrid traveling to Istanbul in a different frame of mind. That, and the fact they experienced the famous Galatasaray atmosphere just months ago, should help Carlo Ancelotti's men this time.

The Süper Lig champions will be no pushovers, however, and they'll fancy their chances of an upset, especially after April's result. Gala have not won in three matches domestically, but haven't lost, either. The visit of the competition's most successful club will surely see the hosts raise their game, if they needed any excuse to in the first place.

Their target for success will probably be a focus on Madrid's shaky defence. Los Blancos are crying out for the return of Raphael Varane, especially after a nightmare at the back against the Yellow Submarines at the weekend. Marcelo will still be absent, meaning Nacho is likely to continue at left-back, while Ancelotti will decide between Dani Carvajal, who played well on Sunday, and the more experienced Alvaro Arbeloa on the other flank. The latter may the preferred option given the fixture and more importance on defence.

A heap of pressure will be on Iker Casillas, who Carletto says will start, although if there's one man who can handle that pressure, it's Saint Iker. Ancelotti looks set to use Diego Lopez as his domestic goalkeeper and Casillas in Europe. Given the lack of opportunities the Spanish No. 1 has had in recent months the pressure will be on to perform well, especially after the heroics of Lopez at the weekend.

If Tuesday is anything like last spring's match in Istanbul, it will be a real thriller. But Ancelotti and his men would undoubtedly be happy to return to the Spanish capital with a 1-0 win to put an early three points on the board and lay down a marker for the rest of the competition. If I was a betting man, however, I'd bet on goals.


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