Euro 2016 Group B

Wales

11 June - Slovakia (5pm GMT, Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
16 June - England (2pm GMT, Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens)
20 June - Russia (8pm GMT, Stadium Municipal, Toulouse)

In a tournament containing some dark horses among the usual suspects, Wales will be hoping to defy the odds once more as Barney Lloyd-Wood explains.

Together Stronger

A qualifying campaign to remember meant that Wales are preparing for their first ever European Championships. With memorable wins over Israel and Belgium, as well as an all-time high ranking of 8th in the FIFA rankings at one point, a mix of flair and defensive stubbornness showed the rest of Europe there’s more to Wales than Bale.

Coach: Swansea-born Chris Coleman took the job under unfortunate circumstances following the death of Garry Speed. After a tough few years, he will go into legend after comfortably guiding Wales to an international tournament.

Preferred XI: Hennessey; Williams, Davies, Chester; Taylor, Richards, Ramsey, Allen, King; Bale, Robson-Kanu

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey stick out in a team centred around team ethic and structure. Much in particular has been made of the performances of the Real Madrid winger if Wales are to progress from a tricky group. While his goal was decisive in a decisive match against Belgium, much emphasis will be placed on Ashley Williams to keep some of Europe’s finest talents from breaking down a dogged Welsh defence.
 

Keep an eye on: It is worth keeping an eye on the differences in tactics and formation in each game. When Coleman’s side are aware of the gap in man-for-man quality (such as the Belgium game) the shape is rigid and the set up is particularly cagey and counterattack-based. When the Reds smell blood, they play with some expansive play, looking to Bale and Ramsey to pick defences apart.

Did you know

  • Wales have not participated in an international tournament since the 1958 World Cup, where they narrowly lost to Pele’s Brazil.
  • Due to the old format of the European Championships, while Wales have never played in the finals, they have qualified for the tournament, narrowly losing in a playoff against the winners of group 3, Yugoslavia. Wales narrowly lost.
  • The most recent qualifying campaign has seen Wales reach record highs on several occasions in the FIFA rankings. September 2015 saw rivals England slip to 10th, which meant Wales sitting in 9th were ranked above England for the first time in their history.

Wales versus…

…Slovakia- P 2  W 1  D 0  L 1 F 6 A 7
…England P 97 W 14 D 21 L 62 F 90 A 239
…Russia P 4 W 0 D 1 L 3 F 2 A 6

Stats

Population: 3 million
Nickname: The Reds, The Dragons
Calcio fans might remember… John Charles - Juventus (1957-1962)
Top Division: Welsh Premier League (Swansea City and Cardiff City have both played in the English Premier League)
FIFA World Ranking: 24
International honours: None
Most capped player: Neville Southall (92)
Leading international scorer: Ian Rush (28)
Wales at the European Championships:

1960 - Did not enter
1964 - Did not qualify
1968 - Did not qualify
1972 - Did not qualify
1976 - Did not qualify
1980 - Did not qualify
1984 - Did not qualify
1988 - Did not qualify
1992 - Did not qualify
1996 - Did not qualify
2000 - Did not qualify
2004 - Did not qualify
2008 - Did not qualify
2012 - Did not qualify

How they got to the European Championships: Wales qualified for their first European Championship finishing second in their group behind Belgium. A 2-0 defeat away at Bosnia still saw The Dragons qualify after Cyprus beat Israel.