Gareth Bale: LAFC put me on “good path” to World Cup with Wales
One of Gareth Bale’s primary reasons for signing with LAFC this summer was to be ready for Wales reaching their first World Cup since 1958, snapping a 64-year drought when they compete in Qatar this November.
The 33-year-old forward feels he’s on a promising path fitness-wise, speaking before the The Dragons play UEFA Nations League games Thursday vs. Belgium and Sunday vs. Poland.
“We’re on a good path to where I want to be,” said Bale, whose deal runs through the summer of 2023 with options through 2024. “I want to play 90 minutes as much as I can, but I understand I need to build up to that because I haven’t done it an awful lot in the last few years.
“The most important thing for me is to take each week as it comes and hopefully that will be good enough for me to help LAFC and, ultimately, be ready for the World Cup.”
Bale, who joined after a trophy-filled nine-year career at Real Madrid, has two goals in 11 appearances (two starts) for the Supporters’ Shield leaders. His 342 minutes played are already more than the five-time UEFA Champions League winner accumulated during all of the 2021-22 LaLiga campaign as he battled injuries and at times wasn’t preferred by manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Wales manager Robert Page also noted he’s “surprised with how fresh” Bale looks, having scored the winner vs. Ukraine in June’s decisive UEFA playoff. Thus far, Bale’s 62 minutes played in last week’s 1-1 draw at Minnesota United FC mark his season high for LAFC.
“We have a plan in LA with what we’re doing,” Bale said. “We’re not doing too much straight away. Every footballer wants to play as much as they can, but we’re being clever and building myself up for the last important part of the season. Hopefully, that should put me in great shape for the World Cup.”
LAFC, Wales futures
Wales are drawn into Group B at the World Cup alongside England, Iran and the United States, opening Nov. 21 against the latter country. Bale is their captain, sporting 39 goals across 106 games.
At LAFC, Bale is part of arguably the league’s top forward group. He joined this summer alongside Gabon international Denis Bouanga and former Barcelona winger Cristian Tello, supplementing a group that has captain Carlos Vela, leading scorer Cristian Arango and Kwadwo Opoku, who just placed ninth on MLSsoccer.com’s 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR list.
LAFC, searching for their second Supporters’ Shield title in four years, close their 2022 season Oct. 2 at Portland Timbers and Oct. 9 vs. Nashville SC. They’ve already clinched the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, guaranteeing Bale will play until at least one month before Wales’ World Cup slate begins.
The complete picture creates a happy Bale, Page said about a player who spurned European opportunities – including at his boyhood Cardiff City – upon leaving Real Madrid this summer.
“It’s oozing out of him, so you can see it’s been the right move for him and his family,” Page said. “Whether it’s the lifestyle, or the welcome he got from his own players. Who wouldn’t want to go into training every day? We talk about the environment he works in here with Wales, but he seems to get that when in LA.
“The family are happy, he’s got them with him and it seems like he’s back enjoying his football albeit he’s not playing 90 minutes, 90 minutes. He knew that when he went over there. He knew that he wasn’t going to be playing week in, week out.”