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Author:  Dario Saltari

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With the 3-0 win over Russia, Wales qualified at the head of their group for their first time in history playing in a European cup. If the man of the hour for this miracle is Gareth Bale, with his three goals, Aaron Ramsey is playing a role that is just as fundamental.

Ramsey’s contribution to Wales’ game play is less conspicuous than that of the Real Madrid ace, but it is even more important in terms of the solidity and tactical balance of Chris Coleman’s team.

In fact, in the phases without ball possession, when Wales tightens up the midfield and defensive lines on its 5-3-2 formation just outside the penalty area, Ramsey supports Allen and Ledley, acting as left centre midfielder. This is a physically taxing but fundamental manoeuvre from a tactical point of view, because it gives the Welsh midfield the ability to better cover the pitch horizontally and the centre backs to stay in position, keeping the line of five players compact.
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By tracking back, Ramsey covers Lallana and allows Davies to stay in position, therefore preventing Alli from attacking the space behind him. Cahill is forced to pass deep

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Ramsey also plays a determining role in possession, especially thanks to his creative skills. In fact, in fast transitions the Arsenal midfielder is usually the man that links the initial possession with Bale’s sprints. If, on the other hand, the opposing defence is in place, Ramsey moves up between their lines and forms a midfield diamond with Allen, Ledley and Bale.
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The Welsh box midfield leads to the 2-1 score against Slovakia. In this case, Bale’s counter manoeuvre draws Hrosovsky out of position, freeing up Ramsey between the lines (he will then be the one to set up the Robson-Kanu goal)

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And in this position he significantly increases the quality of the Welsh offence, which otherwise relies solely on Bale’s creativity either with the ball, with long distance shots and through passes (he already has two assists and six key passes), or without the ball, recovering the second ball from the striker or with outside-inside manoeuvres that threaten the space between the centre and the fullback.
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The importance of Ramsey in winning the second ball. In this case, Bale’s deflection ends up with Vokes who, with his back to the goal, can pass to Ramsey, who will then shoot from a distance

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After Russia is dispossessed during a counter attack, Ramsey is already prepared to move into the space between the centre and the fullback. Allen sends him and he scores the 1-0 goal

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If Wales is a solid team and a dangerous up front at the same time, credit goes first and foremost to Aaron Ramsey.
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Don’t miss WALES TACTICAL ANALYSIS: HIGHS AND LOWS OF THE TEAM to learn more about this topic!
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Dario Saltari

Dario Saltari was born in 1989 and he holds a university degree in International Relations. He writes for L’Ultimo Uomo
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