Welsh striker Gareth Bale dismisses focus on Portuguese superstar ahead of semis clash; says Wales players get along like brothers
Dinard (France): Gareth Bale yesterday said he has not spoken to his Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo since Euro 2016 began but insisted the semi-final between them on Wednesday should not be seen as a clash of the superstars.
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Wales' Gareth Bale during a training session in Dinard, France yesterday. Wales take on Portugal in the first Euro 2016 semi-final encounter on Wednesday (Pic/Getty Images)
Bale, 26, and Ronaldo, 31, will be the centre of attention at Stade de Lyon on Wednesday, when a place in the final against either Germany or hosts France will be on the line. "It's not about two players. Everybody knows that really. It is about two nations in a semi-final, 11 men against 11 men," Bales said.
But Bale is confident that Wales can shackle the Portuguese dangerman. "Of course he's a fantastic player, everybody knows what he can do," said Bale. "But we have always spoken about what we do, what we do ourselves as a team. We don't worry about the opposition.
"We know a lot of teams we've played against have got very good individuals but, for us, it's about the team. The team is the star for us. There's no stars in our team — we all work as one. We all run for each other, tackle for each other, fight for each other - and if the team performs well we are able to shut out a lot of threats."
'Not spoken to Cristiano'
Whereas Bale has been a relaxed presence during his dealings with the media, Ronaldo has shown signs of stress, throwing a reporter's microphone into a lake two weeks ago. Bale said he had not spoken to Ronaldo since the start of the tournament and was reluctant to be drawn on the former Manchester United star's likely state of mind.
"I can't comment on how he's feeling, what he's doing," Bale said.
"I am sure he has his reasons for doing what he did. That's entirely up to him. For me, I feel comfortable. We are enjoying ourselves here. Sometimes you have to fulfil your responsibilities and doing interviews is part of that."
Wednesday's game has been billed as a play-off for the Ballon d'Or award, which Ronaldo relinquished to Lionel Messi last year.
But Bale says that he is only interested in making history with Wales. "I don't think that makes sense at all," he said when asked if the trophy would be at stake in Wednesday's game."
"It's not just one game — it's over a whole season. To me I never think about the Ballon d'Or at all. For me it's all about helping my team. If an individual award comes along, then so be it. But more important is that my team win trophies and fight for trophies. That's the ultimate aim."