Bale’s Wales much more than a one man team
Passion and spirit key for Coleman
hen a side possess a truly gifted footballer, a world-class operator capable of single-handedly changing the outcome of a game, it is all too easy to label them a ‘one-man team’.
Before the tournament got under way in Paris on June 10 there were many who believed Wales fell into this category.
Gareth Bale was a colossus for the Welsh in qualifying, in fact he had a hand in 82 per cent of their goals, scoring seven and assisting two of their total of 11.
His incredible form has continued at the Euros thanks to a goal in each of Wales’ three group games. But it is clear that there is much more to this side than just Bale.
“Sure, at times, he’s carried the team but he’s able to do that because we get into a position where he can win us games,” said Wales manager Chris Coleman. “And he understands this and the help he gets from his teammates, and he works to make them better, and they work to make him better.”
It is an ability that separates Bale from other players who deal with the same weight of expectation. Just take a look at how Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic performed in their opening two games of the tournament. Both are remarkable forwards who are capable of the majestic, yet neither have been able to improve the players alongside them. You could argue there is more talent in the Portugal squad than Wales - yet Ronaldo appears on a mission to make the tournament all about him. His Real Madrid teammate, however, is more than willing to trust in those alongside him. The likes of Chris Gunter and Neil Taylor will make lung-busting runs down the wing safe in the knowledge Bale is willing to trust them with the ball. Bale’s energy and enthusiasm is contagious and he makes everyone else better. When those around him are Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen, themselves hugely-talented players, the outcome is emphatic. Bale also does not see himself as a star and understands it is about the collective unit above all else. Coleman has also instilled great spirit and belief in the squad. “You know, as a nation, we’re small geographically,” said the emotional Wales boss. “But when it comes to passion, we’re a whole continent.” With a nation’s support and Bale lifting all around him, the Welsh Dragons may just slay some big names before the Euros are over.