Real Madrid star Gareth Bale believes his side can still win La Liga after coming from behind to inflict Barcelona’s first defeat in 40 games with a 2-1 victory in El Clasico.
Madrid still trail Barca by seven points with seven league games to play, but Bale also highlighted the importance of the victory to Madrid’s confidence ahead of their return to Champions League action against Wolfsburg in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
“If we wanted to win the league this was a game we had to win,” said the Welshman.
“You never know, football does funny things to teams when you lose and you never know what could happen. All they need is a few bad results, we need a few good ones and we’re right back in it.
“The most important thing today was to get the win to build confidence for the rest of the season.
“There’s still the Champions League as well, which we’re really looking forward to.”
The win was a huge turnaround for Madrid in Zinedine Zidane’s first Clasico in charge after suffering a 4-0 thrashing at home to Barca earlier in the season.
Gerard Pique’s towering header early in the second half put Barca in front, but Karim Benzema quickly levelled as Madrid tore the hosts apart on the counter-attack after the break.
And despite going down to 10 men when captain Sergio Ramos was sent off seven minutes from time, Bale crossed for Cristiano Ronaldo to strike the winner moments later to spark belief Madrid can end a difficult season on a high.
Real were embarrassingly thrown out the Copa del Rey in December for fielding an ineligible player, but Bale believes having played a competition less than Barca has allowed them to arrive fresher to the business end of the season.
“Maybe being out of the Copa del Rey helps a little bit, we’ve had less games. We’re feeling strong, confident now, and it’s one final push until the end of the season.
“Tonight really does put us mentally in a strong position, we can beat anyone on our day and we showed that.
“Barcelona have been saying they’re the best team and we beat them in their own back yard tonight.
“We had a game plan, we know we’ve got speed on the counter-attack so we used that to our advantage. We know obviously if you attack them they’re not the best defensive team in the world.”
Zidane also hailed the confidence boost victory gives his side ahead of their trip to Wolfsburg.
“We know what we want to do in the Champions League. Very few teams win here and I am happy for the players and for the fans who can be proud of their players.
“For confidence it is very important to win here for the rest of the season and just before playing a Champions League game in Germany.”
However, the Frenchman quelled suggestions Madrid were back in the title hunt with Atletico Madrid still separating Barca and Real at the top.
“First we have to get past Atletico, we are still third and then we will see.
“To win here is a huge reward for the players. They played a huge game.”
Next up for Barca is a Champions League clash with Atletico on Tuesday and coach Luis Enrique insisted he has already turned the page as Barca look to become the first side to retain the trophy in the Champions League era.
“This game already doesn’t exist for me,” said Enrique.
“There is no pain. We came into the game on the back of many games without losing, but defeats can teach you things and the players know that.
“Every title has its difficulties, especially when you are playing against opponents with the same objectives.”
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