Gareth Bale may have admitted he is playing with “anger” but his Wales manager Ryan Giggs believes his talisman will channel that energy as a positive force in Slovakia tonight.
The saga of Bale’s mood swings in Madrid has cropped up again on the eve of Wales’ vital Euro 2020 qualifier – but furious or otherwise at his treatment by Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, Bale can be a match-winner according to his international boss.
“I think now, looking from the outside, things have improved,” said Giggs.
“The way that he’s playing – which is all that footballers want to do, they want to play, they want to get minutes, they want to do well – I’ve always said he’s at a fantastic club.
“Of course, it would have unsettled him because it was apparently very close for him going.
“But things might have changed. Things do change quite quickly in football and now he’s playing, he’s loved, he’s happy, and I expect him to carry on doing what he’s doing for Real Madrid.
“If Gareth Bale is at your club and he’s training well and he gets the chance to play, he’s always going to keep you interested because he can turn a game on its head, he can score goals and he’s such an asset.
“So I’m not surprised in that respect. I was surprised with what happened in the summer – I think everyone from the outside thought it was a bit strange, but it seems like everything has gone a bit quiet now.
“I think that’s all you ask for – for players to be in good form for their clubs and then take it into the international arena.”
The wait to see Aaron Ramsey return after an 11-month absence for Wales goes on after the Juventus midfielder was left at home in order to continue his fitness rehabilitation.
Ramsey is back in Cardiff, battling to overcome a tight abductor muscle in his thigh in time for the crunch qualifier against Croatia on Sunday.
The 28-year-old midfielder has not played a competitive game for his country since November 2018.
Giggs added: “He has a chance for Sunday. He has a little bit of tightness in his abductor. He did a bit of training . The physio has stayed back to work with him. We are hopeful that he will be available for Sunday.”
Wales must avoid defeat at all costs against Slovakia after battling to a 1-0 victory in the reverse fixture in March.
They have fond memories of Slovakia, stretching back to beating them 2-1 at Euro 2016. Ramsey, Bale and Joe Allen played a key role that day, with Bale netting a stunning free‑kick, but the trio have not featured in a Wales qualifier together for almost two years.
Bale’s first international goal also came against Slovakia in 2006, and he is planning to deliver the goods again to kick-start Wales’s qualification campaign.
“You could say this is make or break but no matter the situation we want three points and to win the game,” he said. “I am planning to score again, whether I will or not we will see.
“I have had success against Slovakia playing before but I don’t think it affects what happens. I will be trying the best I can to help the team whether that’s scoring, assisting or being on the pitch.”
Bale could end his tumultuous Real Madrid career at the end of the season and he is ready to let off some of his club frustrations on the international stage.
“You play with a lot of emotion, anger comes into it of course,” he said. “I am just trying to play football and enjoy it as much as I can whether I am here or in Madrid.
“I love meeting up with Wales, everybody knows that. It’s something I have always loved doing. We have a chance to qualify for the euros and this is a massive game. We want to get three points and put ourselves right back in the mix.”