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Wales and Gareth Bale crash out to superior Denmark

A big defeat in Amsterdam.

Wales v Denmark - UEFA Euro 2020: Round of 16 Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

For the Welsh national team, a second consecutive European Championship knockout campaign is a huge success. The squad of first, second - and even third division players were now looking to emulate the semi-final journey they enjoyed in 2016 before dropping out against Portugal. The group stage was tight for them, but they did enough to make the top two and qualify, but now Denmark stood in their way of the last eight. The Danes had lost their opening two games and had been seriously rocked when star player Christian Eriksen collapsed under cardiac arrest in the opening game - but a stellar 4-1 win over Russia was enough to see them through and gain a strong wind of momentum.

Wales v Denmark - UEFA Euro 2020: Round of 16 Photo by Koen van Weel - Pool/Getty Images

For 20 minutes or so, it looked bright for Wales. Gareth Bale was constantly finding a pocket of space on the right-hand side, which allowed him to pick the ball up and either thread a pass or work a shot. One shot flew just wide, and the Danish were starting to sweat over his interactions. After surviving this period, Denmark appeared to change their set up and plug that space midway through the half. This led to total domination from the Danes. Wales became isolated, Bale became quiet - and Denmark became leaders. Kasper Dolberg was found by a really smart pass from Mikkel Damsgaard, but his finish to find the bottom corner from outside of the box was world class. Denmark continued to dominate in every way possible, but failed to score again before half-time.

Wales v Denmark - UEFA Euro 2020: Round of 16 Photo by Koen van Weel - Pool/Getty Images

Wales had to regroup and try to gain some possession and momentum in the second half, but Denmark were not prepared to let things slip. Minutes in, and it was two. Dolberg again, this time capitalising from a poor clearance before picking his spot from inside the area. Due to the score line alone, the Welsh remained hopeful of a comeback, but Bale continued to be marked out of the game. As time went on, it became clear that Denmark were far too strong for even a trademark Welsh fairy-tale revival. Towards the end, it went from bad to disastrous. The impressive Joakim Mæhle received the ball in the box before fooling his man and stabbing the ball into the top corner with his weaker foot. Knowing this meant it was over from them, Welsh player Harry Wilson needlessly took down a Danish player to receive a red card in added time. Although the red card was actually the wrong decision when considering the challenge, Denmark held no prisoners and quickly used the space to make it four through Martin Braithwaite. Bale himself got booked in this time for voicing and showing his disagreements with the refereeing decisions towards the end of the game. It finished 4-0 to Denmark, and Wales crashed out of the tournament after being completely outclassed.

So no dream story for Wales this time out, but for a nation of that size and quality to once again make it to the knockout rounds of a major international tournament is amazing. Gareth Bale has really taken his country to heights that they have never reached before - and his inspiration has made sure that they may well be able to continue to reach those heights long after he has gone. Rumours that this may have been his last game for Wales remain speculative, and he has proven that he still possesses the mentality to lead and produce for this team - but it is ultimately down to him what happens now. Now I can relax and solely support the only other UK nation left in the tournament in their bid to take the trophy home...

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