Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Gareth Bale: English clubs suffering in Europe due to lack of winter break

Gareth Bale believes English clubs are suffering in the Champions League because they do not have a winter break.

The Real Madrid winger has won the competition twice since his big-money move from Tottenham in 2013 and is targeting a third crown with the Spanish giants this season.

The LaLiga side hold a 3-1 lead over Napoli heading into Tuesday's second leg in Italy while only one out of three Premier League clubs are currently ahead in their last-16 ties.

Arsenal trail 5-1 against Bayern Munich and Leicester fell to a 2-1 first-leg defeat at Sevilla, leaving Manchester City - who beat Monaco 5-3 at the Etihad Stadium last Tuesday - as England's best hope of success in Europe's top competition.

Bale - who recently returned from a lengthy ankle injury - concedes the level of competition in the Premier League is higher than in LaLiga, but the 27-year-old says there is still plenty to learn from the rest of the continent.

Speaking to several national newspapers, Bale said: "Every game in the Premier League you have to be at 100 per cent for 90 minutes or you will lose.

"In Spain, you can be up at half-time against the bottom club and take your foot off the gas. You can rest players and take people off. If you try for 45 minutes you won't win a match in the Premier League.

"Obviously the winter break is massive. In England you'll play four or five games and we don't play any. You don't get many rest days and it really does burn you out for a long time after that."

Chelsea were the last English club to win the Champions League in 2012, while Spain boasts five of the last six finalists in the competition.

Speaking about the benefits of a winter break, Wales forward Bale added: "It's nice to really get away from it, mentally as well as physically.

"Spanish teams definitely know they have this edge over the English. Every country does: Spain, Italy, Germany, they all have the winter break."

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