Two of the greatest names of the footballing world in the modern generation were born on this day. 16th July marks the birthday Real Madrid legend Gareth Bale and, Spain and FC Barcelona legend Sergio Busquets. These two players have played against each other many times as they play for two of the greatest Spanish clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, and have often rivaled in El Classico against each other.
Sergio Busquets (16th July 1988)
Sergio Busquets Burgos (born 16th July 1988) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder and is the vice-captain of both Barcelona and the Spain national team. Busquets is widely regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders of his generation. He has won massive 31 trophies combined in his senior club career and international career.
A one-club man, he got a chance in Barcelona‘s first team in 2008-09 after graduating from La Masia academy and made over 550 total appearances. He was part of the squads that won a treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League in 2008–09 and 2014–15. His calmness and composure in midfield were one of the main factors as to Pep’s “Tiki-taka” philosophy being so successful in Barca’s dominance in Europe and everyone in the footballing world was in awestruck by the football they played, trying to emulate the “Tiki-taka” playstyle. Many tried to copy it, but no team could properly. They did not have one missing part of the puzzle, and that was El Pulpo. The nickname meaning “The Octopus” fits Busquets perfectly; whenever he plays, he has complete control of the game, like an octopus would have control over its prey with the help of its eight arms.
Busquets made his senior international debut for Spain in April 2009 and won over 100 caps. He helped the country win the 2010 World Cup and the Euro 2012 tournaments, and also featured at two other World Cups and Euro 2016, playing an important role in every major tournament. He played all of the 2010 World Cup games and minutes for the eventual world champions, except the last 30 minutes of the 0–1 group-stage loss against Switzerland. He finished the tournament with the third-highest pass success rate, alongside his teammate Puyol, completing 88% of his passes. Busquets played every single minute of the Euro 2012 tournament, thus proving himself as an indispensable player of the eventual champions. Spain had conceded only a combined of 3 goals considering both the tournaments. And Busquets had a major role in it.
Busquets is usually deployed as a defensive midfielder. His ability to intercept loose balls and break opposition attacks due to his unparalleled positional sense and tactical sense along with, the ability to read the game is world-class. He is one of the most tactically astute and diligent players the game has ever seen. His vision, ball control, passing, technical quality, positioning, ability to be press- resistant allows him to control the tempo of the game as a deep-lying playmaker. His game is not to be considered by only stats, but by his footballing intelligence. The midfield maestro does not possess the skills and flair of the teammates beside him, but he makes the team tick. As in the words of legendary manager Vicente del Bosque himself,
“If you watch the whole game, you won’t see Busquets—but watch Busquets, and you will see the whole game.”Vicente del Bosque, manager of Spanish National Team in World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012
Gareth Bale (16th July 1989)
Gareth Frank Bale (born 16th July 1989) is a Welsh professional footballer who plays as a winger for Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid and the captain of Wales national team. Renowned for his ball striking from distance, swerving free kicks, and his ability to get past defenders with pace, Bale has received plaudits from his peers, who have described him as a footballer with “tremendous speed, great crossing ability, a great left foot, and exceptional physical qualities“. One of the fastest footballers in the world at his peak, he is known for his physical fitness, pace, strength, stamina, skill, heading ability, and agility, technique, ball control. He has also great work- rate and provides a defensive contribution off the ball.
Gareth Bale is an epitome of evolution as a footballer. He started his professional career at Southampton as left-back and now, he is recognized as one of the best right-wingers of the decade 2010-2019. During his time at Tottenham, managerial and tactical shifts saw him transform into a more attacking player. In 2011, Bale scored his first senior international hattrick against defending European champs Inter Milan, also a treble-winning team. This was the match where he announced himself to world football. In 2011 and 2013 he was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year and was named in the UEFA Team of the Year. In 2013, he was also named PFA Young Player of the Year, the FWA Footballer of the Year, and the Premier League Player of the Season. He was nominated to the PFA Team of the Year three times in a row between 2011 and 2013.
After moving to Real Madrid in a transfer, which included a world-record fee at that time. He has 12 trophies in his collection for Real Madrid till now in his 7 seasons here, now on the verge of winning his 13th trophy here, which includes 4 Uefa Champions League titles and 3 consecutive UCLs amongst them. He has been very instrumental in Real Madrid’s dominance in Europe in this decade. He scored the goal in 110th minute of 2014 UCL final which made Real Madrid lead 2-1 against their city rivals Atletico Madrid, eventually winning it by 4-1. In 2014 Copa del Rey final against rivals Barcelona, Bale scored one of the iconic ever goals in the game. He outsprinted Barcelona defender Marc Bartra from his own half and scored past the goalkeeper Pinto. The following season, he scored in a third major final to help the club win the FIFA Club World Cup. Also, he scored 2 goals in UCL 2018 final against Liverpool to make the score 3-1 after coming from the bench when the score was 1-1. This includes a magnificent bicycle kick, which is considered as one of the greatest goals ever in Uefa Champions League finals of all- time.
In 2016 Euro, Bale lead his country to the semi-finals to everyone’s surprise, which Wales lost to Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Portugal, the eventual champions. He is Wales’ highest scorer of all- time. He has been named Welsh Footballer of The Year a record 6 times. Gareth Bale in his prime absolutely ruled down the right flanks, making many opponents look very slow. Constant injuries at Real Madrid hampered his career greatly, otherwise, he was destined to become one of the best players of the decade. He along with Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo formed one of the greatest attacking trios of the decade, BBC. The Welsh Dragon is on the verge of leaving Real Madrid now, but he will leave as a club legend, completely fulfilling his world- record transfer fee by his performances for the club and most importantly, his clutch goals in important matches.
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