Ryan Giggs felt Wales’ defeat to Denmark was a “learning curve” for his young players.
Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen scored in each half as Denmark ran out comfortable 2-0 UEFA Nations League winners in Aarhus.
“It wasn’t easy after the highs of Thursday to get back up again,” Giggs said, referring to their 4-1 opening Nations League victory against the Republic of Ireland.
“Against a very good team and physically with the quick turnaround we found it difficult.
“But the lads lads kept going and for the young players it’s a learning curve.
“I tried to freshen up it as much as I could and also keep that rhythm of playing so well.
“But you had a team who played two competitive games in a short space of time and a team that didn’t – and it showed in the end.”
Gareth Bale captained Wales for the first time in his 72-cap career as veteran defender Ashley Williams was rested on the back of the Ireland game.
Real Madrid star Bale was not at his best, but Giggs dismissed the suggestion that the decision was a mistake.
“I don’t think it affected his performance,” he said.
“I’m lucky because, with Ash not in the team, we have a lot of candidates for the captaincy.
“I just felt he was the most experienced. He leads by example and he’s very vocal in the dressing room.
“When Gareth speaks, especially the young players listen and it wasn’t a difficult situation.
“I could have picked others, Chris Gunter or Aaron Ramsey, but I felt Gareth was best suited to do the role from the rest of the players.
After an under par start, Denmark assumed control from the moment Eriksen opened the scoring after 32 minutes with a low drive which went in off a post.
And Eriksen made it 15 goals in his last 18 international appearances with a 63rd-minute penalty after Ethan Ampadu had handled Viktor Fischer’s cross.
“Our style of play in between the lines suits Christian a lot,” said Denmark manager Age Hareide.
“There’s a different positioning in the offensive play in our team to Tottenham’s and we are always looking for him in and around the box.
“I didn’t think in the first half we had the rhythm, but it could have been that Wales was good too.
“We found the rhythm better in the second half and we are used to playing tight matches.
“We did well in World Cup qualification playing tight matches, and it was clear that our legs were fresher than Welsh legs later in the game.”
After a soft landing into the international arena, it was a hard and harsh return to reality for Wales’ talented crop of emerging youngsters on Sunday.
Ryan Giggs could not have asked for a more comfortable encounter in Cardiff on Thursday against an under-strength Republic of Ireland, where a host of his twinkle-eyed starlets wowed the watching masses.
But it was a far more arduous awakening in Denmark, against hosts who were expected to be under-prepared following a nightmarish period of preparation for their UEFA Nations League opener.
At one point it was envisioned a rag-tag bunch of lower league players would be drafted in for this fixture following an extraordinary row between the Danish FA and its elite players over commercial rights.
It had resulted in coach Age Hareide being told to stay at home rather than take charge of the side for their friendly on Wednesday against Slovakia.
In Trnava, a squad containing members of the Danish national futsal squad, as well as a YouTube freestyle football star, a student and a part-time salesman, were downed 3-0.
But while all of Wales are buying into the Giggs regime and the exciting new wave of talent he is ushering in, the return of Denmark’s tried and tested stars proved the new-look Dragons are not exactly on the money just yet.
Don’t take anything away from the performances of David Brooks, Connor Roberts, Chris Mepham and especially Ethan Ampadu against Ireland. As woeful as Martin O’Neill’s men were, you can only beat the opposition which is put in front of you.
And for international novices aged 22 (Roberts), 21 (Brooks), 20 (Mepham) and 17 (Ampadu), to play with such command in any environment was impressive.
Leeds United striker Tyler Roberts (19) and Manchester City academy product Matt Smith (18) also looked bright off the bench.
That’s without mentioning the Liverpool duo of Ben Woodburn (18) and Harry Wilson (21) who have already left impressions on the international stage.
For a squad so young (the average age of the starting XI versus Denmark was 25.5) – even with experienced stars such as Gareth Bale, Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey around them – there are sure to be teething problems.
As much as everyone will have enjoyed the Irish romp, a stern test was what was required next. As breathtaking as they were going forward in Cardiff, Wales look like they will also be open defensively under Giggs, who has reverted back to a four-man unit in his early tenure – a shift from a solid five which predecessors Chris Coleman and Gary Speed championed.
And with such a shrewd operator in Christian Eriksen pulling the strings for Danish Dynamite, you can always expect fireworks.
The Tottenham schemer sparked the hosts into life when he was afforded too much space by Allen and Ampadu in the box to turn and fire in the opener midway through the first half, following a bright start from the visitors.
He burned the Dragons’ hopes of a comeback on the hour mark when tenacious teen Ampadu conceded a penalty – Eriksen rocketing the spot-kick past Wayne Hennessey, who in truth made several excellent stops to keep the scoreline respectable.
For all their issues in the build-up, Denmark welcomed back a clutch of well-known stars who took them to the last 16 of the World Cup.
Colossal captain Simon Kjaer, of Sevilla, tireless Ajax midfielder Lasse Schone, Borussia Dortmund anchorman Thomas Delaney, wiry RB Leipzig forward Yuusuf Poulsen and Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel all returned. And even though they started poorly, Denmark showed all their experience and nouse to strangle Wales into submission after taking a 2-0 lead.
So after firing into life on Thursday, Giggs young Dragons failed to scale the same heights on Sunday.
It is back to the drawing board for the Manchester United icon. But he must look at the bigger picture. He still has a blank canvas in front of him. It’s up to him whether it turns out to be a masterpiece or not.
Real Madrid star Bale took over the armband from veteran defender Ashley Williams, who was rested after the 4-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland on Thursday.
James Chester deputised for Williams and Chris Gunter also returned to the defence to win his 89th cap, as forward David Brooks dropped out in a potential formation change.
Denmark’s senior squad were back in force after the image rights row which saw the Danes field lower-league and futsal players in their 3-0 friendly defeat to Slovakia on Wednesday.