Bale ‘massive loss’ but Wales won’t lose focus
Wales suffered a blow to their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup when Gareth Bale was ruled out of the final two qualifiers. Bale will miss the trip to Georgia on Friday and the visit of the Republic of Ireland three days later — two games Wales must win to make the play-offs in November. Here are three different ways Wales could line up in Bale’s absence. This is the formation Wales usually play and sticking with it would mean changing only personnel rather than the system itself. Chris Gunter and Neil Taylor are the wing-backs in this formation either side of three central defenders in James Chester, skipper Ashley Williams, and Ben Davies. Joe Allen and Joe Ledley hold the midfield behind two roaming ‘number 10s’ and a centre-forward.
In this system, Aaron Ramsey and Tom Lawrence would be the ‘number 10s’ behind Sam Vokes, with Hal Robson-kanu, dynamic teenager Ben Woodburn, and new boy David Brooks offering attacking options from the bench. Wales manager Chris Coleman has occasionally dispensed with five at the back to play four defenders.
Neil Taylor would almost certainly be the victim of such a switch with a back four of Gunter, Chester, Williams, and Davies.
Allen and Ledley would hold again, but the significant change in this formation would see Robson-kanu and Lawrence providing the attacking width. Robson-kanu would operate on the left, Lawrence on the right, with Ramsey in a central position behind Vokes. Although this would represent a real change from Wales’ usual tactics, bolstering the midfield might prove a useful ploy in Georgia to try and stop the home side’s early enthusiasm.
The back four of Gunter, Chester, Williams, and Davies would remain in front of goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
Allen and Ledley would have support in midfield, most probably from David Edwards or Andy King, with the front three operating in a different fashion.
Ramsey and Lawrence would operate either side of Vokes, but they would probably play narrow with the full-backs asked to provide the width.