Wales came into Euro 2016 as one of the least likeliest sides to win the tournament, yet they now have a great chance to win it all as they now find themselves advancing to the semi finals where they will take on Portugal. It is very likely that only two of Wales’ twenty-three players would have gotten into England’s Euro 2016 side, yet Wales have now surpassed their rivaling neighbours and the world’s second highest ranked team as they enter the semi finals against all odds.
Wales have two superstars. Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey. Everyone else is either good or averagely good in terms of the players at this tournament. Welsh heroes like Hal-Robson Kanu, Sam Vokes and James Chester wouldn’t even have made the England squad had England’s top 100 players been out injured, yet they’ve been three of Wales’ most important players in this tournament. Wales play like a team more than any other team at the European Championships. No other nation plays as collectively for each other as this Welsh team and it has totally paid off as they beat the most expensive side ever assembled at the Euros in Belgium who have amazing individual players like Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne. Aaron Ramsey has starred in this tournament. He’s not only been Wales’ best or second best player but he’s been one of the very best players at the entire tournament. He was brilliant in the match against Belgium, assisting 2 goals and leading almost all of Wales’ attacks on the night. The manager has to be credited for Ramsey’s transformation. Ramsey struggled at times this season playing under Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal as a right midfielder but now at Euro 2016, he’s flourishing in centre midfield. His role as a midfielder, the most attack-minded midfielder in a midfield-three has proved to be so key for Wales and has proved to be the most effective way to get the Arsenal midfielder on the ball and bring the most out of him at this tournament. Gareth Bale meanwhile has outshone his club companion, Cristiano Ronaldo at this tournament. So much so that some might have to ask if Bale is now the better player. He’s done way more for Wales at this tournament than Ronaldo has ever done for Portugal at any major competition ever. These two have been Wales’ best players at Euro 2016, yet it’s never been about them, it’s always been about the team.
Wales have real leaders in their team from back to front. Captain Ashley Williams is a natural born leader and organizes the defense excellently well. Joe Allen can control a game in midfield with his ability to pick a pass out from anywhere, keep possession of the ball and dictate the tempo of the game. Aaron Ramsey can get up and back, back to front, left and right. He can score goals and he can create them and on top of all else he knows how to win games. Gareth Bale is one of the best players in the world but doesn’t have a big ego at all, always playing for the team and always putting the team ahead of any personal glory. And we can’t forget about Chris Coleman. The Wales manager has been absolutely brilliant in this tournament and his 3-5-2 formation has worked to perfection. Coleman always knows how to get the best out of his best players and always makes sure that Wales play to their strengths. He has led the charge to get his team believing that they can achieve anything and now they certainly can achieve anything, even the impossible, as they go into the semi finals against a Portugal side that hasn’t won a match after 90 minutes the entire tournament.
Belgium won their previous game 4-0 over Hungary and were looking totally unbeatable in their three previous matches in this tournament. This meant that Wales came in to this match as the clear underdogs, yet they somehow managed to beat one of the world’s best teams by a score of 3-1 and by completely outclassing them. They stopped Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne from playing. Ramsey and Allen dominated the midfield despite the talent of Witsel and Nainggolan for Belgium. Hal-Robson Kanu, a player who has just been released by his English Championship club Reading, managed to outclass arguably the Premier League’s defender of the year, Toby Alderweireld. It was a magnificent performance from Wales and you could talk about and praise every single player and the role they played in the match. Now Wales go into the semi-finals against Portugal as the clear underdogs again but might just be able to upset the 2004 Runners-Up and make it to the European finals against all odds. The world will be watching and cheering on. This Wales team might just do the impossible. For now though, they can enjoy the party and celebrate what they’ve accomplished. They’ve surpassed expectations by all ends up.