Euro 2016 odds: Can Chris Coleman lead Wales to the Quarter-Finals?Published May 11, 2016
It is almost a hat tip to Wales’ history of failure in major international competitions by qualifying despite losing 2-0 to Bosnia-Herzegovina in October. Chris Coleman had achieved something that no Wales manager had done since 1958.
The current crop of Wales players grew up watching so many near-misses. Paul Bodin struck the bar with a penalty in a defining World Cup qualifying defeat against Romania in 1993, while Mark Hughes’ side lost a European Championship play-off against Russia 10 years later. It is the perhaps the anguish of the past which has inspired this generation.
Going into Euro 2016 in France, Wales are among the bottom seeds for the Euro 2016 draw and are currently 24th in Fifa’s world rankings. Their fairly unspectacular path to the finals saw them beat Israel away 0-3 and beat Belgium 1-0 in Cardiff, although they did only lose one game.
Since qualification, however, Wales have not won a match. They lost at home to the Netherlands 2-3, tied in Cardiff with Northern Ireland and most recently, lost to Ukraine in Kiev.
Wales’ success has been built in defence, where they only conceded four goals during the qualifying rounds, and two of those were in one game in Zenica.
Wales’ star is undoubtedly the Gareth Bale who in 2013 became the most expensive transfer of all time when he moved from Tottenham to Real Madrid, and scored some of the vital goals that saw the Welsh through. He scored twice against Andorra in the first game to get the first points on the board, scored twice in Haifa and scored the only goals of the games to beat Belgium at home and Cyprus away.
However, it would be incorrect to say that Wales are all about Bale, as they also have a squad boasting Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, who has recently returned to full fitness, Liverpool’s Joe Allen and Crystal Palace’s Joe Ledley who has been a big part of the Eagles’ good season.
However, a group including British rivals England and Russia will mean that Coleman will have to find his touch to reach the latter stages.