Monday, 20 June 2016

Wales v Russia Match Analysis

It was simple for Wales, beat Russia and guarantee qualification for the last 16 of Euro 2016. It was also a precarious position for Wales who could even have finished bottom of the group had results gone against them. However, it's not in the makeup of this Wales team to hide when they have to get the job done and wow they sure got it done in real style.

Wales have started their previous 2 games at Euro 2016 quickly and they continued in that vein against Russia with the midfield and forward players pushing high up the pitch against an aging Russia team. The positivity of the Welsh was soon rewarded with the energetic Joe Allen feeding the ball through to Aaron Ramsey who delightfully chipped Igor Akinfeev in the Russia goal to make it 1-0 to Wales and ease the pressure. It would have been understandable for Wales to sit back after taking the lead but this fearless team wanted to qualify for the last 16 in style. The formation of Wales caused Russia all sorts of problems with the wing backs getting in acres of space when Wales won the ball and countered quickly with the Russian team playing incredibly narrow. It was another one of those devastating Wales counter attacks that again unlocked the door. Gareth Bale surged forward and was actually robbed of the ball but it fell to Neil Taylor steaming forward into the box to slot the ball home to make it 2-0 to Wales. The stuff of dreams for Wales who were cruising to the last 16.

It was important for Wales to keep the momentum going in the second half and not let Russia back into the game. That is exactly what Wales did. There was no let up from the Welsh with Russia not learning from the mistakes of the first half. Gareth Bale became a bigger influence in the second half with several powerful runs at the Russian defence causing havoc but just not a quite finding the finishing touch to finish off Russia. Bale soon got his moment to finish off the Russians with a move of real style culminating in Aaron Ramsey finding Gareth Bale who poked the ball past Akinfeev and it was 3-0 and job done for Wales.

England's 0-0 draw with Slovakia means Wales top the group and go through as group winners with arguably the best performance of any team at Euro 2016 all be it against a shambolic Russian team but you can only beat what is in front of you and that was how to win a game. Many tipped Wales for exit at the group stage and believed Wales were happy just to be there. That is not the philosophy of Chris Coleman or these Welsh players who are the surprise team of the tournament. They are always aiming as high as they can and have finished at the very top of their group. Now Wales wait to see who they will face in the last 16 but one thing for sure is that this team will go into the game with no fear and will be together stronger.

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