Bale plays down importance of duel with Ronaldo at Euro 2016

Wales star Gareth Bale has downplayed his rivalry with Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo as the two face off on Wednesday.
Wales star Gareth Bale has downplayed his rivalry with Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo as the two face off on Wednesday.PHOTO: AFP

(Reuters) - Gareth Bale says Wales' Euro 2016 semi-final against Portugal on Wednesday will not be decided by his personal duel with Real Madrid team mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

"It's not just about two players, it's about two nations in a semi-final, 11 men against 11 men," Bale told reporters on Monday. "Ronaldo is a fantastic player, but we talk about what we can do and don't worry about the opposition. It's about how we perform as a team."

Ronaldo, Portugal's most capped player and highest goalscorer, has failed to catch fire so far at the tournament, with his two goals to date coming against Hungary in the group stage.

Bale has scored one more - while also teeing up Wales's winner from an own goal in their second-round tie against Northern Ireland - and has been central to his country's surprise run to the last four.

The two forwards have enjoyed success on the pitch together and won two Champions League titles in the last three seasons.

The spotlight, however, has been on their relationship in the lead-up to Wednesday's game and Bale denied that there was any friction between them. "Of course we get on very well at Madrid, we enjoy playing with each other," he said. "He's a fantastic player, everybody knows what he can do."

Bale became the world's most expensive player when he joined Real Madrid for 85 million pounds (S$156 million) from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013, more than the 80 million the Spaniards paid Manchester United for Ronaldo four years previously.

Wales are in unchartered territory and playing their first ever major tournament semi-final, but Bale believes they can even go on to win Euro 2016.

"We all believed from the start. As we have said many times, we didn't come here to make up the numbers," he said. "We came here to do a job, we came to do the business. Ultimately we want to win the tournament."