Wales banking on Bale – 5 talking points ahead of crunch Turkey clash

·3 min read

Wales are back in Euro 2020 action against Turkey on Wednesday.

Both sides are looking for their first win of the tournament, with Wales having drawn their opener against Switzerland 1-1, while Turkey were beaten 3-0 by Italy.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points surrounding the Group A clash at Baku’s Olympic Stadium.

Bale inspiration required

Wales v Switzerland – UEFA Euro 2020 – Group A – Baku Olympic Stadium
Wales will be seeking inspiration from captain Gareth Bale against Turkey on Wednesday (PA)

Gareth Bale, Wales’ talisman and record goalscorer, has not scored for his country for 12 games, a run stretching back to October 2019. During that time, however, Bale has still come up with crucial assists and match-winning moments. But he was isolated in Saturday’s draw with Switzerland as Wales struggled for possession and was the least effective of the Dragons’ three-man attack. Bale is still capable of deciding big matches, but Wales must surely find him more in the final third to sample some Turkish delight.

Moore service needed

Wales v Switzerland – UEFA Euro 2020 – Group A – Baku Olympic Stadium
Kieffer Moore scored Wales’ equaliser against Switzerland (PA)

Wales have a match-winner in Kieffer Moore, the 6ft 5ins former lifeguard who was playing non-league football at Forest Green when Chris Coleman’s side reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016. Moore’s size, strength and hold up play provides Wales with a rare attacking weapon in international football and his eye for goal was underlined with his superb headed equaliser against Switzerland. But Wales must get higher up the pitch and improve the service from wide areas to the Cardiff targetman.

Tactical tweaks

Wales v Albania – International Friendly – Cardiff City Stadium
Wales interim coach Robert Page has big calls to make over his tactics and formation against Turkey (Nick Potts/PA)

Caretaker boss Robert Page reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation in Wales’ opener, with the plan for Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Daniel James to support Moore. Ramsey was used as a false nine ahead of the tournament as Wales played without a conventional centre-forward in a 3-4-3 system. Page will consider returning to that formation with Connor Roberts and Neco Williams offering huge energy down the flanks. But Ramsey could drop deeper alongside Joe Allen, allowing Wales to start with more forward-thinking players in a game they probably must win to progress.

State of group

Italy Turkey Euro 2020 Soccer
Group favourites Italy celebrated an opening 3-0 win over Turkey (Andrew Medichini/AP)

Italy came into Euro 2020 on the back of a 27-game unbeaten run and underlined their class by dismantling Turkey 3-0. It would be a major surprise if the Azzurri did not march on and win the section for a round-of-16 Wembley tie against the runners-up of Group C. Wales complete their group fixtures against Italy in Rome on Sunday, so the Turkey clash has a now or never vibe about it. Turkey were considered Euro 2020 dark horses before a ball was kicked, but badly came off the rails in Rome and must regather quickly. Switzerland are a thoroughly decent outfit and sure to have a say in qualification.

Past meetings

Republic of Ireland v Turkey
Hakan Sukur scored four goals in a 6-4 Turkey win over Wales the last time the two nations met in 1997 (Haydn West/PA)

The two nations have not met since a crazy 10-goal affair in August 1997 when Turkey won 6-4 in Istanbul. Hakan Sukur, the ‘Bull of the Bosphorus’, scored four against Bobby Gould’s side that night. Earlier in 1998 World Cup qualifying, the two sides had played out a goalless draw in Cardiff. Wales had won three of their previous four meetings, including a 4-0 and 1-0 double in 1982 World Cup qualifying. The first two games in 1980 European Championship qualifying produced 1-0 home wins.

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