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Wales Euro 2020 preview: Key players, strengths, weaknesses and expectations

Even the most ardent England fan would have struggled not to share a wry smile when Hal Robson-Kanu Cruyff turned his way through the Belgium backline before firing the ball past Thibaut Courtois back in Euro 2016.

It was a moment of true genius that unquestionably provided one of the standout moments of the tournament, though Wales’ quarter-final win over the Red Devils would prove to be their last of the competition as they suffered a noble defeat to Portugal in the semi-final.

Unbelievably the 2016 competition in France was the first Euros Wales had ever qualified for, yet four years on they’re back and looking to repeat their heroics.

Rob Page’s squad certainly has some weaknesses but there’s also some really talented players at the caretaker boss’ disposal, and 90min has provided you with a complete rundown of everything you need to know about the Wales squad…

Route to Euro 2020

Daniel James' goal was enough to beat Belarus in qualifying
Daniel James’ goal was enough to beat Belarus in qualifying / Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Well they certainly didn’t make things easy for themselves.

Having started their qualifying campaign with a solid win against Slovakia on matchday one, Ryan Giggs’ side mustered just one win in their next five games – and even that was a nervy 2-1 win over Azerbaijan courtesy of a late Gareth Bale goal.

Despite struggling to win games, Wales were just about hanging in there courtesy of some decent draws against Croatia and away at Slovakia, and a 2-0 win to secure the double over Azerbaijan meant a win on the final day against Hungary would see them qualify for consecutive European Championships.

Giggs needed his big players to shine and both Bale and Aaron Ramsey did exactly that, with the latter bagging a goal in each half to notch a 2-0 win and book Wales’ place at Euro 2020.

Strengths

Aaron Ramsey will be a big player for Wales this summer
Aaron Ramsey will be a big player for Wales this summer / Athena Pictures/Getty Images

You might immediately expect us to point to Bale and Ramsey and just say ‘well it’s obvious’, though in truth Wales are so much more than just a team with the odd decent player.

Their defensive options may not be as littered with superstars as their attacking options are, but they more than make up for that with their disciplined, well-drilled displays.

Throughout their eight qualifying games they conceded just six goals, while they’ve kept an incredible ten clean sheets in their previous 13 outings. Being hard to beat has been the backbone of Wales’ success in recent years and they’re a really difficult unit to break down.

Now comes the bit where we mention Bale and Ramsey.

Well it’s impossible not to really. They’re obviously both world class players who can tear any team apart on their day, while the pace in the wide areas of Daniel James and David Brooks could also be a key weapon this summer.

Weaknesses

Rob Page will take charge of Wales in Giggs' absence
Rob Page will take charge of Wales in Giggs’ absence / Dan Mullan/Getty Images

It’s harsh to label it as a weakness, but their preparation for Euro 2020 has been far from ideal with Giggs suspended from first-team duties last November. The Wales boss is in the midst of a court case and so Page has been handed the reins on an interim basis – hardly an ideal build-up.

In terms of the actual playing squad, for all we’ve lauded the Welsh for their rigid tactics, the one drawback is they do tend to struggle to score goals.

While six goals conceded in their eight qualifying outings is something to be proud of, they also only managed to score ten – nearly half of which came in their two clashes against an Azerbaijan side who’ve taken a fair few beatings in their time.

That being said, if they can hang on in games before letting the handbrake off late on and releasing their attacking superstars, they could produce a few shocks this summer.

Players to watch

Gareth Bale's threat is no secret
Gareth Bale’s threat is no secret / Athena Pictures/Getty Images

Again, we’re going to struggle not to mention Bale and Ramsey here, but you already know how brilliant they are so we won’t bore you with the obvious.

Youngster Ethan Ampadu is already amassing a decent number of caps for his country at the tender age of 20, and with a season of Premier League football under his belt he could be a real one to watch at Euro 2020.

Liverpool youngster Neco Williams is another who could be set for a real breakthrough tournament and his energy and attacking endeavour down the Wales right could be key to them relieving pressure against sides who like to see plenty of the ball.

Final squad

Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Danny Ward (Leicester), Adam Davies (Stoke)

Defenders: Chris Gunter (Charlton), Ben Davies (Tottenham), Connor Roberts (Swansea), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Tom Lockyer (Luton), Joe Rodon (Tottenham), Neco Williams (Liverpool), Rhys Norrington-Davies (Stoke), Ben Cabango (Swansea)

Midfielders: Aaron Ramsey (Juventus), Joe Allen (Stoke), Jonny Williams (Cardiff), Harry Wilson (Cardiff), Ethan Ampadu (Sheffield United), Daniel James (Man Utd), David Brooks (Bournemouth), Joe Morrell (Luton), Matthew Smith (Doncaster), Dylan Levitt (Istra), Rubin Colwill (Cardiff)

Forwards: Gareth Bale (Tottenham), Kieffer Moore (Cardiff), Tyler Roberts (Leeds)

Predictions

Rob Page will take charge of Wales at Euro 2020
Rob Page will take charge of Wales at Euro 2020 / Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

We’ve said a lot of nice things about Wales throughout this piece – and some not so nice things, admittedly – though to be honest it looks a tall order for them to make it out of Group A.

Page’s side have hardly been drawn in the group of death, though Italy and Turkey still look firm favourites to finish in the top two spots, while Switzerland are no pushovers themselves.

Wales will definitely cause teams problems and their rigid defensive unit combined with the magic of Bale and Ramsey could see them take enough points to make it through to the knockout rounds, but we reckon they’ll just fall short.

Prediction: Group stage exit

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