Red Dragons unable to replicate Euro 2016 magic

Just like 2016, Wales exceeded expectations and put on yet another terrific show at the European Championships. However, the Red Dragons came up short in the knockout stages and were easily beaten by Denmark. Despite this, the Welsh fans will be ecstatic with the fact that Wales got out of Group A. This death group also had eventual winners Italy, as well as Switzerland and Turkey.

Managerial change

Just before the tournament began Wales were put in a difficult position. Their manager at that time, Ryan Giggs, had to step down as manager of the Red Dragons after his arrest. Moreover, this left Wales in an absolute crisis. Consequently, Robert Page was announced as the Wales manager, but there was still plenty of uncertainty regarding how Wales will fare at the upcoming tournament. Before the managerial change Wales were already facing an uphill task of qualifying from Group A and this made matters worse.

Page did a remarkable job of preparing Wales for the tournament and tried to keep the majority of the team the same. In Wales there was still an air of optimism going into the tournament. The Red Dragons still had a an extremely dangerous side. Captain of this team is their all-time top scorer Gareth Bale, who put in some impressive performances at club level. Coinciding with this was the electric Daniel James and set-piece specialist Harry Wilson. Aaron Ramsey and Joe Rodon were among the other standout players looking to impress at Euro 2020.

The Group Stages

Wales began their tournament with an opening day draw with Switzerland. Second-best for the majority of the game, striker Kiefer Moore got the all-important leveller. Page’s side avoided a late scare, when the Swiss goal was ruled out by VAR. In the first match the defensive vulnerabilities of the Welsh side were shown by Swiss striker Embolo. Embolo was a handful throughout for Spurs defender Joe Rodon. The Red Dragons went into the second game of the group stages as underdogs yet again. Turkey, who many pundits thought would be the “dark horses” of the tournament didn’t live up to expectations. Goals from Ramsey and Roberts gave Wales the all-important three points, which meant that they were likely through to the next stages. Bale and James, who began the game on the wings, were the standout players for Wales.

In their final game of the group stages Wales took on favourites Italy, who had already progressed to the next stages. Furthermore, Italy boss Roberto Mancini put out a second string side, which gave Wales some hope that they could get a result. Ampadu’s red card gave the Red Dragons an uphill task, but defeat at Stadio Olimpico still saw Wales progress. Throughout the group stages Wales were predominantly a counter-attacking side, in which they effectively used their pace on the break as a way out. Coinciding with this, Page’s side also had great discipline in terms of their defensive shape. For example, they often went back into a conventional 4-5-1 when they were without the ball and were fairly solid at the back. Their opponents for the knockout stages were Denmark.

Denmark dent Wales ambitions

Wales, who were looking to recapture their magic from Euro 2016, came up short against Denmark. The Red Dragons were on the receiving end of a 4-0 humiliation. A brace from Dolberg and goals from Maehle and Braithwaite were enough to give Wales an early exit. A rather underwhelming performance from Wales was the main reason for their early exit. On the day there were too many big-game players missing. Gareth Bale had no influence on the game whatsoever. Overall, Wales were beaten by a better side and there was no shame in going out to semi-finalists Denmark. However, the manner of defeat erected heavy criticism and Bale’s antics after the game provided a bitter ending to Wales’ Euro 2020 campaign.

Author: Rajan Sangha

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