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Author: Mattia Fontana

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It cannot be said that Wales does not have a certain taste for history. In 1958, the last time they participated in a large international competition until Euro 2016, a goal by Pelè eliminated them. This summer in France, they were wounded in the semi-finals by a goal scored by Cristiano Ronaldo (and then the second goal by Nani).

They definitely exceeded expectations and played a very different brand of football compared to the other British teams in the tournament, set up on an old-school foundation. A three-man defence that was used only by Italy and Northern Ireland in the tournament, but with very different coverage and play-building characteristics.
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TYPICAL FORMATION

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Coleman set up a 3-4-2-1 formation in the offensive phase that morphed into a 3-5-2/5-3-2 in the defensive phase, with Ramsey and Bale (one of the best pairs seen in France) free to find space between the lines. This formation was only changed – with the exception of the Davies and Ramsey ejections – to alternate Robson-Kanu and Vokes in the striker position.
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DEFENSIVE PHASE

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Unlike Italy, the only other team that used the 3-5-2, Coleman’s lads did not use a four-man rearguard depending on the situation. However, in the defensive phase, the formation often became a 5-4-1, with Gareth Bale ready to sacrifice himself.

When the opposing team arrived at the offensive midfield, there were times when Wales even had six defenders lined up (the five plus Ledley) with the Allen-Ramsey-Bale trio trying to win the ball.
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BALE + RAMSEY

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Northern Ireland’s 5-4-1 had completely different characteristics from the midfield forward. Coleman tried to implement a type of football that would not give offensive points of reference (Robson-Kanu remains a mobile forward, Bale varied his position all over the front) and that would be able to reconcile with a much more technical than physical midfield.

If Ledley was called on to provide balance in front of the defence, Allen and Ramsey moved around freely. The Arsenal player finished with 4 assists in the 5 matches played, the best in the tournament along with Eden Hazard. The two images illustrate how the Robson-Kanu goal against Belgium came about.

Bale falls back to midfield, communicates with Gunter and plays the ball to Ramsey (who cuts in like a true striker) with a 40-metre pass. Stop, cross and goal. All technically excellent.
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GUNTER

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Wales’ two best matches were the ones against Russia and Belgium, two teams that attacked without any particular attention to the offensive phase. This allowed Bale and his teammates to use their best weapon.

The counter attack launched by good feet from the midfield and supported by the excellent work of the two wings, Gunter and Taylor, brilliant in both play phases. Obviously, the more open pitch, the more incisive Bale was, one of the best players seen in Euro 2016.

In the play shown, the third goal against Belgium stemmed from a dialogue between the centre backs which gave Gunter the time to move off to the right, receive and lob a cross in for Vokes to convert it into a goal.
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Don’t miss WALES MIDFIELDER AARON RAMSEY: SOLIDITY AND TACTICAL BALANCE to learn more about this topic!
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Mattia Fontana
Mattia Fontana, Eurosport Italia editor.
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