Wales have made steady progress as an international football team over the past few years but begin UEFA Euro 2020 under a dark cloud.
Wales have made steady progress as an international football team over the past few years. They made a first Euros semi-final appearance in 2016 under the management of Chris Coleman. They might have lost to eventual champions Portugal, but it was a big deal even being in the semis. Even now, they remain a tough side to beat on any given day. They have won four of their last six international games and even got promoted to the top tier of the UEFA Nations League. Their only loss was a 3-1 defeat to Belgium. Coming into the UEFA Euro 2020, they should be discussed as dark horse contenders.
Of course, all of that has taken a back seat to the court case involving national team coach Ryan Giggs.
The former Manchester United winger was charged in April with assaulting two women and exerting controlling and coercive behavior. His trial will begin on January 24, 2022, with a preparation hearing set for July.
As a result, Giggs has excused himself from his duties to the Wales team. Assistant coach Robert Page, who has taken the helm in Giggs’ absence, will be the man in charge at UEFA Euro 2020.
Gareth Bale is the star of the Welsh team. The forward spent the season on loan at his old club Tottenham Hotspur after his motivation at Real Madrid was questioned.
He didn’t get a lot of game time at Spurs but he shone when he did. His brace on the Premier League’s final day helped the side secure a spot in the Europa Conference League.
The other big name for Wales, Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey, has been an injury absentee for Wales in recent times. He has also barely played at club level since March.
However, he will be a big boost if he’s fully fit. Ramsey scored both goals in the 2-0 win over Hungary in 2019 which secured qualification.
Center back Joe Rodon and right back Neco Williams were solid as bit-part players for Tottenham and Liverpool, respectively, this season.
Versatile midfielder Ethan Ampadu got valuable game time on loan from Chelsea at relegated Sheffield United this season. It is worth noting that he played mostly playing as a defender.
Yet such is his value to the side that he’s been selected despite missing the end of the season with an injury.
Veteran defender Chris Gunter marked his 100th Wales appearance in March and adds experience to an otherwise fairly young squad, even if he usually plays in England’s third division.
Giggs has done a stellar job at the helm of the side since being appointed. Therefore it is easy to assume he will be missed during the tournament.
To the credit of the set-up under Page, they have done well to sustain their form since Giggs’ absence. Page also revealed that while he speaks to Giggs on occasion, the former United player isn’t taking the final call on things.
“Obviously we’ve been in touch. You don’t go from being friends and work colleagues, working in a close environment, to then not speaking.”
“Of course I will speak with him. He wants what’s best for Wales. Yes, with regards to decisions and finalising things, that will be me.”
Wales fans will hope their side continue to keep the controversy talk away in the best way they can – by winning football matches.