Bale learns to play better after last season's backlash
REAL Madrid star Gareth Bale believes he is a better player now, having been on the end of fierce criticism for his poor displays last season.
The Welshman has scored 15 times in 18 league appearances during an injury-disrupted campaign. His presence has been missed as Madrid have slipped 10 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona ahead of their trip to Camp Nou tomorrow.
"Last season, I didn't play to anywhere near to my potential," Bale said on Wednesday.
"It was important for me to keep working hard, to keep fighting... I've felt more settled, more involved in the team this year and I think that has shown in performances on the pitch.
"It's good to have a bad season, you really do learn a lot about yourself and I feel this season I took (what happened) last season on board.
"I understand the game a lot more over here and hopefully there is a lot still more to come in the future."
Tomorrow's clash between the Spanish giants will be marked by tributes to legendary former Barca player and coach Johan Cruyff, who died at 68 last week after a short battle with cancer.
With just eight games remaining, a first league title looks beyond Bale but he is hopeful that a win on enemy territory can inspire the confidence needed to propel Madrid to an 11th European Cup triumph.