Having waited for more than 50 years to finally grab their place at a major tournament, Welsh team have shown great character and desire in their first two games at the Euro 2016.
Having beaten Slovakia 2-1 in their Group opener, the Welsh Dragon moved on to lock horns with local rivals England in what has been an exhilarating neighbourhood derby.
Team leader Gareth Bale gave Chris Coleman’s team the lead in the first half of the game having slotted home a wonderful free-kick to beat England goalkeeper Joe Hart from long range. However, the Three Lions got back into the game through goals from substitutions Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge to turn the result over and record a win that came as huge disappointment for brave Welsh team.
A 92nd-minute defeat to English did however expose a fact that cannot be denied – Welsh team is too dependent on Gareth Bale.
Wales made history in France as Real Madrid star marked their first-ever appearance at the continental tournament with two free kicks goals which only happened twice in football history with Michelle Platini scoring two free kicks in first two games of the tournament in 1984 and Thomas Hassler in 1992.
Having netted seven goals during Euro 2016 qualifying for his country, Gareth Bale continued to lead his team at the final showpiece and display inspiring performances which ultimately simply weren’t enough for a perfect record after two rounds.
Gareth Bale has seemingly become both technical and personality leader of the Welsh team, a player who leads by example with his incredible work rate and also a player who leads by character.
Ashley Williams is the man with an armband, yet it is Gareth Bale who enjoys a more leading role, pushing his team forward with his goals while at the same time winding up English team with his public comments about Wales having more passion than England.
Ultimately, it was that same passion that failed him against English as rest of the Welsh team did nothing to join the singlehanded Real Madrid star.
Courageous Welsh players have abandoned the Battle of Britain early with Aaron Ramsey perhaps being the most outstanding of the rest with his intense performance, most notably in the first half of the game. Arsenal man was harrying England midfield and defence at every opportunity, which could not be said for Liverpool’s Joe Allen who was out of his normal role.
Unable to play his usual possession game, Alen helped Wales shield defence leaving Chris Coleman frustrated with his inability to pierce forward as much as the head coach would have liked to. Welsh back four was to be blamed for that as defending lacked pace and composure, particularly when Vardy and Rashford were introduced to play.
Wales indeed are more than just one-man team as Gareth Bale manner both on and off the pitch does not reveal the full extent of the status gap between himself as the team’s superstar and the rest of the squad.
More humble in his nature than his Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in example, Gareth Bale successfully manages to be closer to his teammates than Portugal star.
Team Effort Needed
If Welsh want to survive the group stage of the competition, rest of the squad will need to be more involved in the play with composure and concentration on for the full 90 minutes and with relieved pressure on their main man Bale.
With only a game against Russia remaining there are several different scenarios how Wales could secure progression.
A win against Soviet Union team should nevertheless be the only aim for the Welsh team who are looking at the odds of 12/5 to emerge victorious.
Can entire Welsh team step up and improve their performance to help Gareth Bale in the final match of the group stage?