Wales well positioned to advance after two games. Euro 2020 is being played in 2021 with Free Live Streaming on BBC iPlayer and ITV Sport. Need a Wales Euro 2020 Football VPN?
Despite a disappointing performance in their first game against Switzerland, Wales managed to come away from the game with a draw after Keiffer Moore’s header cancelled out Breel Embolo’s opener. Wales rode their luck throughout and needed Danny Ward to pull off several impressive saves to keep Embolo and his team-mates at bay as the Swiss caused the Welsh back four constant problems with their pace and direct style of play. Wales Euro 2020 campaign is hotting up!
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With Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey turning in poor performances, and both seemingly being allergic to doing any sort of defensive work, there were long spells of the game where it felt like Wales were playing without a full compliment of 11 players and the likes of Joe Allen, Joe Morrell and Daniel James were left to do a lot of heavy lifting in midfield while Moore looked increasingly lonely as he toiled away upfront with little to no support.
With the Swiss commanding 65% of the ball, and attempting twice as many shots on goal, while also having twice as many on target, it would be hard to argue against the idea that Wales were lucky to get a draw. They were a non-factor in the first half and once Moore had equalised for them they showed little desire to attempt to win the game. A point is a point though and Switzerland only had themselves to blame for their failure to capitalise on a poor Welsh showing.
The second game of the group stage turned out far better for Wales as Gareth Bale remembered he was Gareth Bale and set about running the game in a manner in which we have rarely seen from him. Dropping into deeper positions, Bale acted as a playmaker who utilised his vision and passing ability in a manner that was somewhat unexpected. He picked out Aaron Ramsey perfectly to place the ball on the chest of the Juventus midfielder, who controlled brilliantly before slotting home. The timing of Ramsey’s runs have always been one of his strong points, indeed he had made a similar run earlier in the game to get on the end of a similar pass from Bale but unfortunately his finishing let him down.
With Bale and Ramsey clearly in the mood, the team that Turkey faced was very different from the one that had taken on Switzerland in the opening round. The Turks, for their part, were dreadful. After a terrible performance against Italy in the opening game of the tournament, it had been expected that Turkey would be much improved for this game but that wasn’t the case. They looked unorganised at the back, disconnected and clueless in midfield and lacked anything resembling an attacking structure, leaving Burak Yilmaz isolated and lacking in service. They did create some good chances, which they promptly made a mess of but the game looked over when Bale went down just inside the box and was awarded a penalty.
Normally reliable from 12 yards, Bale skied his spot kick but then Turkey decided to shot themselves in the foot. Not content with having gotten away with Bale’s missed penalty, Turkish keeper Ugurcan Cakir decided to really push his look and dawdled on the ball. Bale half-heartedly closed him down but the Trabzonspor shot-stopper took so long to clear his lines that Bale managed to get his foot to the ball and almost directed it into the net.
After Harry Wilson missed a great chance to put the game to bed, Bale once against decided it was time to create something when he collected a short corner from Wilson and ran along the end-line heading for goal. Possibly afraid of giving away another penalty, no Turkish player felt the need to challenge him and they allowed Bale to carry on unimpeded. A simple squared ball to Connor Roberts later, the ball was nestled in the back of the net and Wales were 2-0 up.
With four points from those two games, Wales are now as good as through to the next round. It’s probably a good thing that they have secured that passage because up next for Rob Page’s men are Italy, arguably the best team in the tournament so far. Italy have swept aside Turkey and Switzerland by 3-0 score-lines and look extremely impressive in midfield, where Nicolo Barella, Jorginho and Manuel Locatelli have been excellent, and upfront with the trio of Domenico Berardi, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne are combining brilliantly and carving defenders apart with the movement and dribbling ability.
The combination play of Barella, on the right of the midfield, and Berardi, on the right of the attack, has been a strong point for the Italians so far and they have been involved in all six of Italy’s goals so far in one form or another. With Barella’s all action style, passing between the lines and ability to win the ball back high up the pitch coupled with Berardi’s ability to beat his man and pick a pass, they have caused havoc in the Turkish and Swiss backlines. If they both start against Wales, it could be an extremely long 90 minutes for Ben Davies.
In terms of how the group will end up, a win or a draw guarantees Italy top spot, while Wales can top the group with a win, or secure second with a draw. They can still finish second even if they lose but if Switzerland beat Turkey then Wales will need to avoid a heavy defeat to stay second, which would see them go forward to face the runner-up in Group B in the round of 16. Russia would appear the most likely team to finish second in that Group, as they will face a Danish side who can’t possibly be able to focus on football right now in their third and final game and should finish as runners up to Belgium.
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