The key talking points as Wales prepare to kick off their Euro 2020 campaign
Wales kick off their Euro 2020 campaign against Switzerland on Saturday.
Gareth Bale and company are hoping to recreate the magic of Euro 2016 when they reached the last four of the tournament.
Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points surrounding the Group A clash in Baku.
Can Bale spark Wales again?
Skipper Gareth Bale is among eight survivors from Wales’ Euro 2016 squad which reached the semi-finals five years ago. Bale was the catalyst for success in France, joining a rare band of players who have scored in every group game. The 31-year-old Real Madrid forward comes into the tournament after a mixed season on loan at Tottenham when his game-time was limited. Wales’ record goalscorer has not scored for his country since October 2019, but has done so on the two previous occasions he has met Switzerland.
Page out to write new chapter
Robert Page took charge when manager Ryan Giggs was put on leave in November. The former Wales captain managed Port Vale and Northampton before taking charge of his country’s Under-21 side and eventually joining Giggs’ backroom staff. Page has won four of his eight games in charge, with the only defeats coming against Belgium and France – the world’s top two ranked teams. But Page has much to prove if he is to write another successful chapter in Welsh football history.
Aaron Ramsey was one of the stars of Euro 2016 and named in the team of the tournament. Ramsey has since swapped Arsenal for Juventus but has been dogged by injury over the past few years. He has had fitness issues leading up to Euro 2020 and sat out training on Thursday in what the 30-year-old said was a “planned” decision. Ramsey underlined his importance with both goals in the 2-0 win over Hungary that sent Wales to the finals, but Page faces a huge call over whether to hand him a starting spot or use him from the bench.
False nine or target man?
Wales’ fortunes under Giggs radically improved when Kieffer Moore joined the set-up in 2019. The 6ft 5in Cardiff striker provided a focal point in attack, big and strong to hold the ball up and mobile enough to run the channels. Moore also scored goals. But Page has preferred a different attacking approach, reverting to a false nine between the twin threat of Bale and Daniel James on the flanks. Ramsey or Harry Wilson could get that role, but the suspicion remains that Wales are at their best when Moore’s physical presence is utilised.
Seven previous games between the two nations have produced five wins for Switzerland and two for Wales. Switzerland won their first clash in 1949 before Wales recorded a 3-2 victory in a Wrexham friendly two years later. Switzerland won four successive games between 1996 and 2010 with a goals aggregate of 10-1. But Ramsey and Bale were on target in their last meeting, Wales winning a European Championship qualifier 2-0 in Swansea in October 2011.
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