The loudest cheer of a miserable Tuesday night for Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium was reserved for the 58th minute introduction of the world’s most expensive footballer.
No, not Sunderland’s David Vaughan but instead the man who came on alongside him.
Substitute Gareth Bale wasn’t able to inspire the Welsh side to anything other than the dismal 3-0 loss to Serbia which leaves them bottom of World Cup Qualifying Group A and facing serious questions over their future direction, but his cameo appearance at least proved that he’ll be ready to make his Real Madrid debut this weekend.
Having come close to scoring on a couple of occasions with shots from distance against the Serbs, the ex-Tottenham man is 5/1 to grab the opening goal on his bow for the giants from the Spanish capital, who face a trip to newly-promoted Villarreal on Saturday night.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo (11/4) and Karim Benzema (9/2) are available at a shorter price than Bale to open the scoring at El Madrigal, something which indicates that he’s likely to play a key role in Carlo Ancelotti’s plans as his Spanish adventure begins.
Bale is evens to open his La Liga account with a goal at any time on Saturday evening, and with his brief Wales outing proving that any lingering doubts over his fitness seem long gone, he’ll be determined to build on the form which saw him find the net 16 times in his last 19 games for Spurs.
Real have beaten Villarreal on five of the last six occasions they’ve faced them, and with an away win priced at 8/15 then a victorious start for the Welshman looks certain, something which will convince him that he’s now a world away from Wales.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication