By this point in the European Championships, the reports of various national teams linked to Real Madrid selected by ManagingMadrid writers will have been produced and published to keep generating content throughout the summer. When confronted with the idea, I opted to follow Gareth Bale and Wales, as it was the closest country to my own (England) available. Wales have always had a really interesting squad dynamic, combining some top level stars with players competing at far lower levels. This has led to a great mix of results at competition level, with the nation often missing out on tournaments due to poor qualifying form. They incredibly did manage to reach the semi-final of the last European Championship in 2016, with Gareth Bale reaching new heights as a player. Thing have certainly been rocky for him since.
It would be Gareth Bale to captain his country again for this tournament, with the stronger Switzerland up first in a tight group ‘A’ alongside Italy and Turkey. If rumours were to be believed, then this might be his last. The first half saw Switzerland look to take control, with chances flying in making goalkeeper Danny Ward a busy man. Kieffer Moore came close with his head but that was the only real chance Wales had in the first 45. Things got worse when Breel Embolo put the Suisse ahead just after the break from a header after a corner. It now looked bleak for wales as Switzerland continued to push for the win, but an unlikely winner cropped up for Wales. Kieffer Moore was playing non-league football local to my quiet region in England as Gareth Bale was lifting his first Champions League trophy with Real Madrid - but it was the big striker who would save the day for the Welsh. His great header from a deep cross was enough to secure a 1-1 draw in the opening game for both sides. Gareth Bale was not at his iconic best, but flashes throughout this season have suggested he will remain the biggest cog in the Wales machine if they hope to achieve anything here. He did also win skill of the day with this backheeled effort shown below.
Wales will come up against Turkey next in Group A on Wednesday, which will be covered by myself. That winnable game is vital as leaving things until the last fixture against the impressive Italy would be ill-advised. Wales may provide the weakest Real Madrid link with only the controversial Gareth Bale involved in the set-up from the club, but they will at least guarantee some entertainment and fascinating footballing dark horse stories along the way. As long as he doesn’t come up against your nation, will you be supporting Gareth Bale at the Euros?