Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale is wary of Atletico Madrid’s defensive “park the bus” tactics in Saturday’s Champions League final in Milan.
Diego Simeone’s side conceded just 18 goals in 38 La Liga games and have allowed just seven goals in 12 Champions League matches en route to the final. Atletico have proved adept at shutting out their Madrid rivals in recent meetings too — conceding just twice in their last five games against Real in all competitions — and Bale is aware of the importance of the first goal in Saturday’s final.
“I think the main thing for us is that we don’t concede first,” Bale said in an interview with BT Sport. “If we do concede then they really do park the bus and make it difficult for teams to score. Hopefully we can keep a clean sheet and I think that’s going to be important for us because then they have to come at us and leave space open for us to exploit.
“Their defence is probably their strongest point, but I think you have to look at [Antoine] Griezmann — he’s done very well this season and I think Torres is now coming into a bit of form. They just have a solid team, they work hard together and make it very difficult for everybody.”
Bale scored the winning goal when Real beat Atletico in the 2014 Champions League final, after Sergio Ramos’ stoppage time equaliser had sent the game to extra time. And Bale has made a habit of scoring in finals, netting in three since his move from Tottenham Hotspur to the Bernabeu in 2013.
“I’m excited when I see [the goal],” Bale told Marca. “The feeling of scoring in a Champions League final is unique and when you watch it again there’s a feeling of immense happiness.
“We’re all very excited and eager to start. Having the opportunity to win another Champions League is already a success, although the goal is to win it, of course. It would be impressive to lift the Champions League twice in three seasons.
“It would be better to win without much suffering, in a simpler way. But a final of the Champions League is never easy and we know that Atletico Madrid is a very tough team, so we’re prepared for a testing night. Atletico have had a great season and will be a great opponent.”