executives running out of steam marks the end of an era in Wales


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All good things come to an end. The Welsh are slowly but surely taking full measure of this famous maxim. The contrast is almost stark between the joy of Wales as they celebrate their historic qualification for the 2022 World Cup (a first since 1958, a 64-year wait) and the harsh reality of the competition in Qatar. . After having whipped in the play-offs and having eliminated Austria (2-1) last March then Ukraine (1-0) in June, the Dragons find themselves up against the wall in this 2022 World Cup before facing the England, this Tuesday (8 p.m.), in group B.

The weight of the years becomes heavy to bear for Gareth Bale

If the nation led by Robert Page collected an encouraging point against the United States (1-1) for its entry into the Qatari tournament, it was completely disappointed against Iran (0-2), clearly displaying its shortcomings against a team that had just taken 6 against the Three Lions. During this big disappointment, it was above all the flagrant lack of influence of the Welsh executives that struck. Gareth Bale (33), Aaron Ramsey (31), Joe Allen (32) or Wayne Hennessey (35), who have long carried Cymru at arm’s length in recent years, now seem out of breath and struggling to respond present.

The former Real Madrid player, captain and boss of the Dragons (110 caps, a record), has long been the hero of an entire country and will probably remain the best player in Welsh history. If Wales made their comeback in the World Cup, it is also largely thanks to Gareth Bale. The Los Angeles FC striker came out of the woodwork again to convert the penalty of hope against the USA in the first game. But in the game, his age was clearly felt. In a sad formation struggling to offer the game offensively, he offered nothing, brought nothing. « We have to behave as a team and it’s not up to one person to do everything »Bale however defended himself at a press conference on Monday.

Underperforming and less influential executives

His most faithful lieutenant, Aaron Ramsey (77 caps), is only a shadow of himself in the midfield. Once brilliant, especially with Arsenal, the player on loan from Juventus to OGC Nice this season confirms that he is clearly struggling to repeat high-level performances over the weeks. His influence in the heart of the game is too weak and far from the expectations placed on him. Ditto for Joe Allen (74 caps), affected in the hamstring and who, before coming into play against Iran, had not played since September 17 with Swansea. The lack of rhythm and benchmarks of the former Liverpool midfielder, at fault on the two Iranian goals, has also been sorely lacking in his own.

And what about Wayne Hennessey (109 caps), in whom Rob Page has decided to maintain his confidence for the World Cup when he officiates as Dean Henderson’s understudy at Nottingham Forest and had only played 2 matches in Carabao Cup before the competition. His gross mistake, earning him a red card against Iran, may have cost Wales the game. As you will have understood, if the new Welsh generation remains interesting (Daniel James, Harry Wilson, Ethan Ampadu, Neco Williams…), it clearly needs its leaders, who, for the first time in a long time, no longer seem able to make major differences.

Last stand for the derby against England?

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey sometimes even feel like dead weight on the pitch for their partners. The equation is then delicate for Rob Page, who is struggling to recall his two bosses on the bench, although this could bring more freshness to the collective. “I will put together the team that can beat England, with or without themRob Page rightly guaranteed to the media on Monday. If they don’t start, can they make an impact when they come back? It’s always been my dilemma whether players are able to chain together that quickly. »

Will the derby against England serve as a last stand for the two former Premier League players? All the Welsh people obviously hope so. Gareth Bale has assured that this is not his last game with the Dragons. The latter will in any case have to display a conquering face: they must beat the Three Lions while Iran and the United States neutralize each other to hope to climb into the round of 16. In the event of a winner in the other meeting of this group B, the Welsh will have to beat their English neighbors by 4 goals.

« We have nothing to lose and sometimes it’s quite dangerous for the other teams when we have to face an injured animalwarned Chris Mepham, the Cymru defender. If there is a game for which the group will be motivated, it will be this one. We have shown in the past against quality teams, we can beat them. » In any case, the task promises to be difficult for Wales, accustomed to achieving feats, such as at Euro 2016 (quarter-finals). This beautiful poster could nevertheless mark the end of a cycle which has notably made it possible to put Wales back on the football map in recent years.

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