Euro 2016 team-by-team guide: Everything you need to know Wales
Kevin Palmer gives us the lowdown on the Wales.
Group C fixtures
- June 11th: Slovakia in Bordeaux
- June 16th: England in Lens
- June 21st: Russia in Toulouse
COACH: Chris Coleman
Wales have not been part of a major tournament since the 1958 World Cup finals and whatever happens in France over the next few weeks, proud Welshman Coleman can always have on his record that he was the man who ended that long run.
Taking over from Gary Speed in tragic circumstances back in 2012, Coleman was under huge pressure following a less than impressive 2014 World Cup qualifying push and yet this well spoken former Fulham and Real Sociedad boss has got the best out of the handful of top quality performers and the journey professional in his Welsh ranks.
STAR MAN: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)
Football has always been a team game, yet this magnificent superstar did his best to dispel that reality as he carried the Welsh challenge during their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
The world’s most expensive footballer scored seven and was responsible for plenty of assists during the Welsh run to France and so long as this match-winner is on the field for them in during the tournament, the travelling hordes who will make the short journey across the channel to follow their team this summer will be a threat. Wales will be the Gareth Bale show at Euro 2016 and his nation awaits some iconic moments to be delivered from his wondrous left boot.
LOOK OUT FOR: Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
Ramsey was rivaling Bale as the shining star of Welsh football not so long ago, but this 25-year-old midfielder has lost his way a little over the last couple of seasons.
He was not alone in falling short of expectations at Arsenal this season, with many of Arsene Wenger’s side struggling to perform at their best as they failed to sustain a push for the Premier League title, yet Ramsey will get a chance to banish those disappointments as he takes centre stage in an attacking midfield role that will support the brilliance of Bale at Euro 2016.
WILD CARD: Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace)
A former Celtic star who won three Scottish Premier League titles in his time with the club, he made the move to Crystal Palace in 2014 and played a significant role in their run to the 2016 FA Cup final.
Handed a holding midfield role alongside Liverpool star Joe Allen in this welsh side, Ledley’s primary job is to provide the foundations in the team that allows the likes of Bale, Ramsey and strikers Hal Robson-Kanu (Reading) and Sam Vokes (Burnley) to make their mark. For club and country, Ledley is one of those steady performers who rarely lets his manager down.
VERDICT: Relying so heavily on one star player clearly has some drawbacks, with an injury to Bale liable to destroy Welsh hopes of making an impact at Euro 2016, yet such is the quality provided by Real Madrid’s £86m man that no side will relish a meeting with a vibrant Welsh side at Euro 2016.
While a complete lack of tournament experience for manager Coleman and his players is a concern, their powerful display in qualifying from a difficult group suggests Wales are a team to watch this summer. Don’t be surprise to see them go all the way to the quarter-finals.