We’ve all become accustomed to Bale-mania this season, following the impressive form the winger has produced.
However with such talent, comes a burden of expectation, that of an entire nation whose main hopes lie within the feet of the Welsh wizard.
Take Friday night’s qualifier against Scotland for example.
Following an impressive 45 minutes for the visiting side, they went in behind at the break to Grant Hanley’s header, having dominated the majority of the half. Bale, a threat throughout the half was singled out for some heavy handed treatment from the Scots, and it worked.
As the teams emerged from the tunnel, a Welsh substitution saw Crystal Palace midfielder Jonathan Williams replacing Bale, who had picked up a knock shortly before the interval. Although seen as positive for the Hampden Park faithful, who sensed that the departure of the main visiting threat would help their cause, it did not.
Wales no longer relied on the Tottenham star to create something, and with players such as Aaron Ramsey, Hal Robson-Kanu and former Manchester City striker Craig Bellamy, they started to look even more of a threat. It was Bale’s replacement however, who stood out the most.
Williams at just 19-years-old took over at the heart of the Welsh midfield and dictated the play at his own pace. After Ramsey’s penalty had drawn the visitors’ level, a neat run from Williams set Andy King free on the right, his cross was nodded home by Hal Robson-Kanu which saw the away side snatch all three points.
Rather than be restricted by Bale’s absence, his teammates rallied and could and maybe should have won by more. Nobody is denying the mercurial talent of the ex-Southampton trainee, but whether he is relied on too much by his country remains to be seen.
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