Wales worries about the fitness level of Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale scored and won the 2022 MLS Cup with Los Angeles FC on Saturday after beating the Philadelphia Union in the final at Banc of California Stadium. The Welshman played just 23 minutes, but it was enough to score a late screamer to tie the game in overtime and LAFC shut out Philadelphia in a penalty shootout.

It is special. The reason I came here [LAFC] is to help the club win a trophy, the MLS Cup of course. They have come close in the past but never made it to the final and won it. So yeah it was a big goal and you can see how happy everyone is,” Bale said after the game.

Bale has not reached full fitness

Even though Bale delivered in the biggest game of the season, he didn’t help LAFC reach the final as he has dealt with injuries since arriving in mid-July. During the regular season, the 33-year-old made just 12 appearances, two as a starter, for a total of 346 minutes and played just once during the playoffs, which was in the final.

In fact, the only time Gareth Bale played 90 minutes this year was with Wales in the 1-0 defeat to Poland during the September international window. Since then, he is usually brought on as a substitute for club and country because he has been dealing with injuries for a long time and he explained during the post-match press conference why he only played 23 minutes in the MLS Cup final.

“I’m not 100% at the moment. Of course I’ll be back. I still have some minor issues like most players. We talked about if I’m needed for the last 20-30 minutes then I’m available because I haven’t trained much in the last 3-4 weeks due to a slight problem. But I was able to arrive in the last 20-30 minutes to give as much as I can and I’m happy I got a goal to help the team, but that’s what I’m here to do.,” says Bale.

“I feel better and better as time goes on. I had a few setbacks with a slight knock a few weeks ago that kept me out for 10 days. So it was mentally difficult leading into the World Cup because you see so many players drop out and now they miss the World Cup. So it was tough mentally and I’m sure it was for a lot of players who played, leading into this World Cup and it played a role in the back of my mind to make sure I was 100% fit,” added the former Real Madrid striker.

So the big question for the Wales national team before the start of the World Cup is whether Gareth Bale will be fit to start in the group stage opener against the United States in less than two weeks’ time. Also, how can Bale help Wales in each of the three games of the group stage and how much will they depend on his performances to aim to progress to the next round.

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