Bale’s Wales much more than a one man team

Pas­sion and spirit key for Cole­man

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORT - By Adrian Back @aidy­back adrian@7days.ae

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.

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