Bale carrying hopes of a nation on his shoulders
EURO 2020 GROUP A
WELSH football chiefs have put their faith in Rob Page to lead their team into the Euros, though with no disrespect to the former Port Vale and Northampton boss, Wales’ fans are putting their faith in one man and one man only, and that’s Gareth Bale. Page has barely put a foot wrong since inheriting the coaching job on a caretaker basis from Ryan Giggs last autumn. He has overseen six internationals, losing only one of those, and that was away in Belgium. He has secured promotion to Nations League A and masterminded a critical 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in the race to bank second spot behind the mighty Belgians in World Cup qualifying. The issue, as ever, is hoping that Gareth Bale stays fit, because on his shoulders rests all hope of Wales making a mark at these finals. Bale was outstanding at Euro 2016, scoring in each of the three group games en route to the semi-finals. The four-time Champions League winner dwarfs everyone else in the camp in terms of stature and is single-handedly elevating a nation by inspiring everyone around him. Page builds a team around Bale, it’s as simple as that, and the Real Madrid man is in decent goalscoring nick with six goals in six starts on loan at Spurs. A three-quarters line of Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Manchester United’s Danny James is the strongest area of the side. A 4-2-3-1 set-up enables Page to utilise that trio to their best though the boss has also fielded three at the back and boasts Premier League-calibre defenders such as the Spurs duo of Joe Rodon and Ben Davies. The Welsh are stronger now than for years but Page will still be summoning a selection of players from the lower leagues, all of whom will be looking to Bale rather than the dug-out for the required magic.