Bale ‘mas­sive loss’ but Wales won’t lose fo­cus

Irish Examiner - Sport - - SOCCER -

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.

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