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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Under-achieving Welsh hope to buck trend

1958, the last and only time Wales were represented in a tournament finals, that being the 1958 World Cup Finals in Sweden. A wait far too long for the followers of the Welsh side and one they hope will end in the near future.

Wales have never qualified for a European Championships in their history, 2004 was the closest they’ve come in recent years losing out narrowly to Russia 1-0 in a play-off.

In their last qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, Wales were disappointing finishing 5th in their group behind Belgium, Croatia, Serbia and Scotland while finishing above bottom placed side Macedonia.
This time around optimism surrounds the Welsh national team, their group is by no means straight forward but it is expected to be a coming of age campaign for Chris Coleman and his talented young squad.

Wales see themselves in Group B alongside Belgium, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel and Andorra, a tough group but with the top two teams qualifying for the competition and the third place side getting a play off place Wales have a better chance than ever before to qualify for their first ever European Championships.

They kicked off their Qualifying campaign with a 2-1 away win to minnows Andorra in a far more competitive game than was expected for the Welsh, Gareth Bale was on form for Coleman’s side scoring two to come from behind after Andorra opened the scoring from the spot to record their first competitive goal in four years.

The state of the pitch was a major talking point after the game taking much of the attention away from what was an underwhelming performance for the Dragons.

In the latest 23-man squad, Wales have only three players thirty years old or older, the relatively young team is now coming to a point in their careers where they must step up and be counted on the international stage.
The Welsh squad is jam packed with Premier League players; they include Ashley Williams, (Swansea) Ben Davies, (Spurs) Aaron Ramsey, (Arsenal) Joe Allen, (Liverpool) Neil Taylor (Swansea) not to mention the world’s most expensive player Gareth Bale (Real Madrid).

Coleman has now appeared to have entrusted Bale with the striker role, one that he is fulfilling having now scored fourteen International goals, the Welsh midfield also looks bright with Arsenal playmaker Aaron Ramsey at his peak along with Liverpool maestro Joe Allen. Completing the strong spine of the team is Ashley Williams, a rock at the heart of the defence.

With such an array of young talent in their ranks Wales will expect to at least be getting into third place in the group guaranteeing them a play off tie, anything less than this would see them continue their reputation as underachievers for yet another few years.