Playing on a plastic pitch or a surface constructed out of Lego, Wales shouldn’t have to rely purely on Gareth Bale’s genius to beat Group B whipping boys Andorra.
Before the onset of Wales’ Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, optimism surrounding their chances of making a first major tournament since 1976 wasn’t hard to come by.
However, in the wake of a trip to the tiny Principality nestled between France and Spain, said optimism must be wavering following a dismal display where only a sprinkling of Bale stardust saved Chris Coleman’s blushes.
The conditions on the freshly laid 3G surface may have been adverse, “the worst pitch” Bale had ever played on, but even the world’s most expensive footballer‘s excuses for his teammates couldn’t mask a worrying performance.
Andorra, a team who’ve only ever won three of 119 internationals (losing 105 of those), scored their first goal since 2010 albeit from the spot as Wales looked flustered early on.
Although the spine of Coleman’s side is built around high-quality Premier League personnel, such as skipper Ashley Williams, Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, they didn’t click until the second-half.
It was abundantly clear that striker Simon Church, who was hauled off after little over an hour, clearly isn’t of the requisite quality to make a difference at international level.
The Charlton bench warmer posed as about as much threat as a mouse does to an alligator against a band of part-time professionals and on this evidence it would be a genuine surprise if he adds to his tally of two international goals in 28 caps.
Wales must surely improve going forward, but replacing Church with Joe Ledley – as Coleman did in the second period – looks like a change worth making when Wales travel to Bosnia next allowing Bale to play furthest forward.
Despite their unconvincing win Bales and co and are now 7/4 to qualify from Group B.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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