Wales head to the Euro’s with one win in seven
It was never going to be about today and all that matters is France. Indeed, but this wasn’t the best way Wales could’ve signed off their pre-tournament run-in and arguably our best player was one that isn’t even going to France.
For those who resigned themselves to subscribing to Premier Sports for live TV coverage, you’ll have noted Danny Gabbidon’s half-time comments in the studio where he felt Wales looked leggy and tired – it was hard to disagree.
With a full-strength side featuring Bale from the start against Slovakia, the expectation is that Wales will up their tempo and hit form in the Euro’s but Wales also showed little in terms of craft and guile in either of the friendlies against Northern Ireland and Ukraine also. They need to find their groove and confidence early on when the real action begins.
Ashley Williams was uncharacteristically poor, getting beat by two long balls forward on the first and last Swedish goals, though the Scandanavians have some real talent in the majestic Ibrahimovic and Forsberg. And in between those two strikes, the Swedes became the latest side to capitalise on a set-piece against us as a corner created havoc in the goalmouth before the ball found its way in past substitute Ward.
Wales got off to a nervy start with the Swedes going dangerously close in the opening moments of the game and despite a confident start from Johnny Williams, they lacked a genuine outlet which allowed the hosts to maintain their grip on the game.
The box-midfield of David Vaughan, who got the nod over David Edwards, and Andy King, with Aaron Ramsey and Williams in advance, never looked truly comfortable. Sam Vokes, making a rare start, lacked the mobility which Hal Robson-Kanu brings to the party and despite differing form at club level in the Championship, the Reading forward is absolutely the first-choice forward in this Wales side. Perhaps I’m being harsh on Vokes, who has had limited time in a Wales shirt, but I really question whether he is suited to Chris Coleman’s preferred 5-2-2-1 shape.
Coleman will be struggling to pick up positives from this performance, with the exception being that his players appear to have come through their final game unscathed. In giving Daniel Ward the second 45-minutes in goal, it’s fair to say that the Liverpool stopper is now our established second-choice behind Hennessey. And the introduction of Emyr Huws in the second-half was one of the more unusual changes I’ve seen from Coleman.
Huws brought some urgency to the final third in his 15-minute cameo and helped spark life into Welsh performance, yet his performance means little as he was omitted from the 23-man Wales squad. There is little doubt that Huws has a future with the Welsh team and I can only think that Coleman brought him on as a precaution to prevent any more of our Euro-bound midfielders picking up any knocks. It was still a peculiar decision however, and one which opens him up slightly for criticism by people asking why he wasn’t included in our squad.
Not the best result we’ve seen from Wales by a long-stretch but all this will been absolutely zilch if we get off to a winning start in Bordeaux next Saturday.
Onwards and upwards!