What didn't Gareth Bale do in Zinedine Zidane's managerial debut?
He scored, he assisted, he defended. Bale was an integral part of Real Madrid's five goal slaughtering of Deportivo de La Coruña. The former Tottenham attacker has been essential to Los Blancos this season but amid Rafa Benítez's dismissal, reports emerged that Bale would follow his former boss out of the Spanish capital. However, contrary to the rumors, the Welshman appeared to be inspired by Zizou's arrival. If Saturday was an example of Bale's happiness within the squad, he assured Madridistas that he's not going anywhere anytime soon.
Starting on the right of the attack, Bale was involved from the kick-off. He galloped down the right sideline, linking up with Dani Carvajal in the attacking third. In the second minute, Bale swung in a venomous cross of the highest quality that somehow eluded his teammate's feet. Despite not connecting with Cristiano Ronaldo or Karim Benzema, his cross was a hint at the quality that Bale would produce in the ensuing 72 minutes.
Following Benzema's opening goal, Bale was all over the place. In the 22nd minute, Real Madrid's attack began from deep within the midfield. Luka Modrić split two Deportivo defenders feeding Benzema 35 yards out from goal. Benzema turned into space and picked out Carvajal, darting down the right flank. Bale allowed the ball to run past him into the corner for Carvajal to move onto. Subsequently, Bale loped to the near post before positioning himself between the two opposing central defenders, Alejandro Arribas and Sidnei.
Carvajal played in a dangerous cross that Bale connected with, perfectly placing his headed shot past the outstretched reach of Germán Lux. He made it look simple, baffling Sidnei with his late shift, running behind the Brazilian defender.
While Bale would go on to score two more top-class goals, he also exhibited his superior vision picking out Ronaldo on what could've been a Puskás Award nominee. In the 39th minute, Ronaldo stood at the top of the 18-yard box with the ball at his feet. He pushed the ball over to Bale before making a cutting run through the defense. Bale picked up his head, finding Ronaldo with a sublime chipped pass. Deportivo's defense stood motionless, frozen in time as they watched Ronaldo redirect the lofted through ball past their goalkeeper. However, to the duo's dismay, the Dark Invader's header ricocheted off the crossbar and out of danger.
Walking out of the tunnel for the second half, Bale wasn't content with just one goal to his name and a two goal lead at home in the Santiago Bernabéu.
In the 49th minute, Bale found himself with space inside his opposition's box once again. This time, Ronaldo picked out the Welshman, drilling a pass across the face of Deportivo's defense. Bale, who stationed himself just a few yards above the penalty spot moved to meet Ronaldo's cross. He let the ball roll across his body before striking it with his preferred left foot, slotting it past Lux into the bottom corner. Bale's composure was remarkable as Perdo Mosquera attempted to break up the play with a slide tackle from behind. Bale payed no attention to midfielder once he picked his spot.
Bale's pace and ability to pick out the pockets within the defense was unmatched Saturday. In the 63rd minute, he proved once again that he was un-markable. Set-pieces or open play, it didn't matter.
Toni Kroos swung in a corner kicked that dipped as it intersected the 6-yard box. Once again, Bale elevated and rose above Sidnei smashing a header past Lux securing his hat trick.
Bale was top-class on the attack but also wasn't averse to helping out his defense. Somehow the Welshman found time to track back and commit a goal-saving tackle on Deportivo's most menacing attacker, Lucas. Luis Alberto thought he picked out his man perfectly after Lucas dashed past Modrić entering Real Madrid's 18-yard box. Alberto's pass landed at Lucas's feet but he was met by Bale's last-ditch slide tackle. His challenge was flawless as he swiped the ball away from an unsuspecting Lucas. It's easy to forget that the Welshman has a history of playing in the defense when he's scoring memorable golazos going forward.
The 26-year-old's form is currently out of this world. With 12 goals and 7 assists to his name this year in La Liga, there's very few players in Spain that've been more impressive. Bale isn't showing any signs of slowing down either which should be music to Zidane's ears, making his job that much easier as Real Madrid progress into January.