Football

Wales Have One Reason In Particular To Feel Confident Tonight

Wales Have One Reason In Particular To Feel Confident Tonight

Nine months ago, Hal Robson-Kanu decided he was Johan Cruyff and the world was never quite the same again. Wales qualified for the semi-finals of Euro 2016 with a sensational 3-1 win over Belgium then ranked as number two in the world. The night began with Wales falling behind, but ended with Chris Coleman decreeing:

Dream. Don't be afraid to have dreams. If you're not afraid to dream, if you're not afraid to work hard, and if you're not afraid to fail...

The Welsh odyssey in France has since been turned into a movie, entitled Don't Take Me Home. (That has since been skewered by Jon Walters as an attempt to falsely portray Wales as underdogs).

Deprived of the suspended Aaron Ramsey, Wales ultimately went out to Portugal in the semi-finals of the competition, with the memories given clarity as silverware receded from view.

Those memories are, of course, still fresh, but Wales have made a very sluggish start to qualifying this campaign. They've picked up six points from four games thus far, games characterised by Wales tossing away leads: they did it twice away to Austria, and twice in home games with Serbia and Georgia.

So indifferent has their form been that John Giles has been sufficiently emboldened to quite fancy Ireland's chances in tonight's game at the Aviva, despite Ireland's raft of injuries.

 

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Wales, however, have another reason to be optimistic: namely their own lack of injuries. Joe Ledley was their only slight doubt coming into the game, as his wife is on the verge of going into labour with their third child (conveniently nine months after Wales' 3-0 win against Russia in the Euros, but we digress) but it now looks as if he is free to play tonight, meaning that, for the first time since that win against Belgium, Wales are able to field the same starting team.

Up to now, Aaron Ramsey has been missing in action, with Andy King of Leicester City the deputy. And despite Robson-Kanu's contorting magic against the Belgians, Sam Vokes has frequently been preferred as Gareth Bale's partner up front.

But with Ramsey available, we may see Coleman revert to the formation that worked so well against the Belgians. If we do, they'll be packing midfield in a 3-5-2 with some serious ball-playing ability. Here's how we expect that line-up to look.

Wayne Hennessy of Crystal Palace will be in goal, behind Villa's James Chester and Tottenham's Ben Davies, with Everton's Ashley Williams in the centre of a three-man defence. Chris Gunter and Neil Taylor as wing-backs, flanking an impressive midfield of Aaron Ramsey and Joes Allen and Ledley.

This leaves either Sam Vokes or Robson-Kanu ahead of *gulps* Bale.

If Ireland win tonight, they'll have beaten the real Wales. But then again, better teams than Wales have been beaten in Dublin in recent years.

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See Also: Keith Andrews Gives Extremely Revealing Explanation As To What Went Wrong At Euro 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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