As revealed during the opening game for Wales against Switzerland, when offered the choice of any Real Madrid related nation to follow during the Euros - I opted for one of the weakest links to report on due to their location, and the fact that they provide guaranteed entertainment. Today’s game against Turkey was always going to be make or break for them, and although they did well the draw the Switzerland game 1-1, star man Gareth Bale did not have the strongest influence on proceedings and would need to improve to help Wales win here. He was deployed as a right forward in a compact Wales line-up, operating both out-wide and centrally to try and pull the strings for his nation.
What the opening game lacked in entertainment, this one more than made up for. It was easily the most enjoyable game I have watched at the Euros so far. Turkey clearly had a superior structure and looked better on the ball, but Wales had plenty of opportunity to show off their own quality - and what they often lacked in organisation they compensated with pure passion and desire. Gareth Bale himself decided to really show up for this one. He picked the ball up centrally, and not once but twice played in Aaron Ramsey with such a good pass that the midfielder seemingly had all the time in the world. The first opportunity was missed, but the second was really well taken across the keeper to give Wales the lead. Wales had a first half penalty shout off of the back of another Gareth Bale set, this time with his head as a Turkish hand seemed to block Kieffer Moore’s effort. We even got the chance to see a trademark Bale charge with the ball at his feet, using his strength to keep opposing defenders unable to get near the ball. The first half finished 1-0 to Wales, but they had it all to do to keep the result.
Ramsey just denying my man a perfect assist— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) June 16, 2021
If Gareth thought his first half was busy, he would never have been able to predict how his second would go. He continued to create key passes leading to shots, and Ramsey again came close to doubling the lead. But at the other end Turkey were really starting to pile on the pressure. After driving forward and being chopped down right on the edge of the box, Bale and Wales were given a penalty and a chance to try and bypass this pressure for the rest of the game. The main man stepped up, but his effort completely cleared the target. Within that minute, he again almost scored after closing down a keeper and blocking the attempted pass which flew towards goal - just skimming the post. Wales were then really tested, with Turkey dominating the majority of play, right up until the final minutes. The Welsh managed to play it up the pitch, and two moments of genius from the Real Madrid man decided the contest late on. He feigned holding up the ball in the corner only to fly into the box and almost score - before replicating the exact same tactic (if not for the compliance of Turkey to keep the ball on the pitch above all else), this time finding Connor Roberts for a tap-in to make it 2-0 at full time.
This massive victory for Wales takes them within one game of qualifying for the next round of the Euros. That game will be against the group favourites Italy, but it will take a lot from Switzerland to match the points needed. Gareth Bale claimed the official man of the match title, and put in a performance good enough to take you back in time to his strongest Bernabéu days. Two assists and what really should have been one goal in yet another iconic Welsh win that the nation will remember for some time to come. It makes you wonder if he may have a good enough tournament to play his way back into Real Madrid contention this summer. What a story that would be. Did you watch the game? What did you make of Gareth’s performance? Would you take him back at Madrid?