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Football Sport

Ronaldo and Bale take different approaches to leadership role

Gareth Bale is constantly encouraging his team mates and is described by his Wales manager as "the most down-to-earth boy you could meet."

One is an ‘Eau de toilette’ kind of character, the other more ‘wake up and smell the coffee’.

Cristiano Ronaldo is immaculately groomed, makes a point of posing for the cameras when he scores, is often captured scowling at his colleagues and recently launched his own men’s fragrance called “Legacy”.

Gareth Bale is constantly encouraging his team-mates and is described by his manager as “the most down-to-earth boy you could meet.”

The world’s two most expensive footballers, who play alongside each other at Real Madrid, will go head-to-head when Bale’s Wales meet Ronaldo’s Portugal in their Euro 2016 semi-final in Lyon on Wednesday.

In playing terms, both are the leaders of their teams but they take very different approaches to their role.

While Bale is widely acclaimed as an inspiration for his national team, Ronaldo’s influence on Portugal is the subject of debate.

Ronaldo’s team mates routinely leap to his defence and emphasise that he is always working for them.

“Cristiano has worked for the squad and it’s the only the squad which matters here,” said midfielder Andre Gomes.

“Maybe people were expecting more goals, (but) he has made a huge contribution to the national team and it’s not the moment to start questioning a player.”

Coach Fernando Santos added that Ronaldo has sacrificed himself for the team.

“He is an example, as captain, of the spirit of this team, of this team’s determination, he wants to do well and he wants to win, in this aspect he has been fantastic. He’s an example of what the team is,” he said.

Even so, the 31-year-old three-times World Player-of-the-Year has often struggled with an image problem, especially when he said two years ago that Portugal needed “two or three Cristiano Ronaldos.”

He insists on taking every free kick within – and often beyond – shooting distance, prompting suggestions that he is selfish, and is regularly captured on television cameras remonstrating angrily with his team mates.

Nani, a veteran of more than 100 caps, is invariably berated if he dares to try a shot rather than feed the ball to the “senior partner.”

Earlier in the tournament Ronaldo threw a reporter’s microphone into a lake when he was asked a question during a team walk and was criticised for disparaging remarks he made about Iceland after Portugal drew 1-1 with the rank outsiders in their opening match.

He has not even turned up at any of the daily press conferences which Portugal hold at their camp.

Bale, in comparison, has taken part in at least four, looks relaxed, and is not afraid to stir up some controversy such as when he said that no England players would get into the Wales side, adding that Wales were more passionate than their larger neighbours.

Television images tend to show him encouraging his team mates rather than gesticulating angrily and complaining.

“They are obviously different types of people and different characters,” said Wales manager Chris Coleman.

“Whatever Bale brings to the table for us, that’s him. He’s not manufactured. He doesn’t try to be something he’s not.

“Gareth is clearly a special player. For us he is special, not just because of his talent but what he represents when he plays for Wales.

“He appreciates what he has around him and they appreciate they have a super talent. It’s a good blend.”

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