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Wales' tournament success down to brilliant all round performances

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Wales lack the world class talent to trouble the big teams at the European Championship, yet they were able to defeat Belgium - a team considered as contenders to win the tournament.

Wales are a team powered by passion and work rate. A belief that appears to be instilled by Chris Coleman and that flows not only through the squad from top to bottom but also through the fans in France but the support back home too as demonstrated by the celebrations in Cardiff following the final whistle in Lille.

The Welsh team put on a show of effort and passion in their win over Belgium. Exemplified by the effort of Ashley Williams and Co in blocking three Belgium shots just in front of goal in the opening minutes.

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This set the tone for Wales in this match but is just the continuation of their style throughout the tournament, the battling attitude that many nations have lacked in the European tournament.

Perhaps what is most impressive about the Welsh performances throughout the tournament has been the willingness of the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale to chase and close down consistently throughout, which can only have served to inspire their teammates around them.

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Wales have often had less possession than their opponents, as was the case against Belgium (48%) possession, showing that they have been excellent without the ball. Individual defensive performances have been great despite a couple of shaky moments against Marc Wilmots' side, for the most part, Ashley Williams has played with control and looked like a true captain. The cohesive unit have conceded just four goals all tournament, despite being heavily tested by Belgium. But have also been effective when in possession.

By Chris Coleman’s own admission Wales ‘looked good in possession’ and that when they hit Belgium on the counter Wales were able to ‘put them on the back foot’. This aggressive play with the ball has been a staple of Wales’s play throughout the tournament as well, fearless in possession consistently looking to score and often looking dangerous.

The winner against Slovakia was probably the best example of their distinct style. Ramsey broke through the midfield before Robson-Kanu was able to convert from close range.

Wales v Slovakia - Group B: UEFA Euro 2016

It was mirrored in sorts by the forward’s goal to take the lead against Belgium as another Ramsey run from the midfield was picked out before he was able to find Robson-Kanu who turned brilliantly and converted from short range. What Wales have shown here is that in a tournament where matches have lacked quality and been rather lacklustre, positive play can be still be rewarded massively.

Whilst many of the starting eleven for Wales do play in the Premier League not many are at the clubs who are considered the big teams in England.

Gareth Bale is quite clearly their best player but Coleman's side have proven that the Galactico is not their only match winner as Robson-Kanu has scored both of Wales’ most crucial goals in the tournament, the winner against Slovakia and the goal to take the lead against Belgium in the quarter-finals. Ramsey's four assists in five games has also been a key factor and his suspension from the semi-final will be a big blow for Wales.

FBL-EURO-2016-MATCH46-WAL-BEL

Wales have been wonderful to watch all tournament whether it has been their defensive solidity and ability to get behind the ball and close down, or breaking at speed and using possession to create problems for their opposition.

It is clear that Wales’ players have bought into Chris Coleman' ethos and the system he has employed at the Euros, all of these factors have contributed to some of the biggest results in the nation's history. There is no reason why their journey has to end at this stage though, and they will see an unconvincing Portugal side as a very achievable challenge.

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Topics:
Wales
Gareth Bale
Football
Hal Robson-Kanu
Aaron Ramsey
Belgium Football
Euro 2016

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