Despite losing to Italy in the Olimpico in Rome, Wales have made it through to the knockout stages of Euro 2020, where they will face Denmark in the Round of 16.
Many wondered how Wales would fare at this year’s tournament, particularly since they reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and hold the title for highest average goals per match. Off-the-field issues with manager Ryan Giggs hardly helped their preparation, and the form of star duo Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey had been brought into question numerous times in the build-up to their first match.
In their first group match, they drew 1 – 1 with Switzerland, in a game that many thought they were lucky to come away with a point. However, Wales turned on the style against Turkey in their next game. An impressive 2 – 0 win, with both captain Gareth Bale and Ramsey putting in tremendous displays.
With Italy putting 3 past Switzerland in the other group fixture, Wales knew that their fate was virtually in their own hands as they headed to Rome. Although beaten by the Italians, Wales left the pitch with their heads held high and a place in the knockout stages once more.
Round of 16
Wales’ opponents in the Round of 16 are Denmark, who miraculously secured second place in Group B. The Danes own tournament got off to a horrific start when star playmaker Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field against Denmark. They went on to lose that game and their next against one of the tournament favourites, Belgium. However, an inspired display against Russia in Copenhagen saw them win 4 – 1 – a game which equalled the second highest average goals (5) in a fixture so far in this tournament.
Now, Wales and Denmark head to Amsterdam’s Johan Cruyff Arena on Saturday 26th of June for the first Round of 16 tie. It’s fair to say the draw has been fortunate for both sides. Wales will certainly fancy their chances, and the Danes will, too.
Of course, Denmark will be buzzing after thrashing Russia, but sometimes a team can peak too early at these tournaments. Wales, on the other hand, are getting better with each game. Sure, they got beat in Italy – but they weren’t played off the park.
It’ll be tight, but we fancy Wales to beat Denmark. Joe Rodon is playing at the top of his game, and he seems to relish being the central figure of a back three. Then with James, Ramsey and Bale leading the attack, they have pace and skill in abundance.
If Wales do overcome Denmark on Saturday, they will face the winners of the Netherlands and the team that’s third in group D/E/F. What we know is once you get to quarters of the Euros, they are no easy matches.
This is the business end of the tournament, and it gets very serious. Wales will have a tough task in emulating or beating their achievements of 2016, but while their name’s in the hat, they have a chance.