After no fewer than 58 long years of watching every other nation compete in bi-annual Finals, Wales can finally get a taste of the action for themselves this summer in France, and hopefully they’ll be doing so with the world’s most expensive footballer in their side.
Gareth Bale led Chris Coleman’s men admirably through a tricky qualifying group to finish second behind Belgium, surviving difficult trips to Bosnia, Israel and Cyprus.
The Dragon’s will head to France with one of the tightest defences, conceding just four in qualifying, and that should hand them a good base with which to build on in their matches against Russia, Slovakia and of course, England.
We’ve done the scouting for you and laid out what you need to know about one of the tournament rookies…
Danger Man – Gareth Bale
After netting seven of Wales’ 11 goals to reach France, Bale is absolutely pivotal to how the Dragons get on across the Channel.
Not only did the Real Madrid star score 63.6 per cent of his side’s goals, those strikes contributed directly to a huge nine points.
Injuries have plagued the forward’s season however, and he’s missed each of Wales’ last three friendlies.
Fingers crossed he makes the plane as a Welsh side with Bale in it becomes a very real challenge to any opponent.
Under the Radar – Ashley Williams
Captain and leader of a defence which was incredibly hard to break down in qualifying, Ashley Williams is the man who could very much dictate how Wales go in France.
Bale and Ramsey might grab the headlines, but with seven clean sheets in qualifying, it will take serious quality from England, Slovakia and Russia to break this side down.
With a draw or two quite possibly enough to see you through to the second round in this expanded format, a resolute and organised defence will make Wales even more of a Group B threat.
The Lynch Pin – Aaron Ramsey
With Bale keeping the opponents’ defence busy, Aaron Ramsey will be hoping to profit with a few late dashes into the box this summer.
The Arsenal man is another Wales will sorely need to be fit in France, and his clever movement and link play will be crucial to ensuring how his side fair offensively.
Capable of a tidy finish himself from in or outside the box, an on-song Ramsey could be a game-changer in Group B and beyond.
Wales will be a riding the crest of a huge wave when they head to France, and they’ll rightfully be confident of prolonging their stay beyond the group stage.
With a tight defence and quality up front from Bale and Ramsey, Wales should be greatly respected at both ends of the pitch.
Outright odds at 80/1 suggest Wales winning the Euros may be a stretch, but a quarter-final run is very much possible and would mark a major achievement.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.