Ryan Giggs under pressure as Wales boss but Gareth Bale back to best and Joe Rodon on the rise

Press Association Sport 14:21 08/09/2019
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Wales take a break from their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign to play Belarus in a Cardiff friendly on Monday.

Here, PA takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the game.

GIGGS BACKLASH

Wales might have beaten Azerbaijan on Friday to boost their Euro 2020 qualifying hopes but the manner of the performance left a lot to be desired.

Phone-in shows and social media went into overdrive, with manager Ryan Giggs bearing the brunt of the criticism. Giggs knows he must get more out of a talented squad if the gripes and groans are not to turn in to anything more substantial.

TACTICAL APPROACH

Giggs’ post-Azerbaijan briefing came across as muddled, saying his players were too hasty in their passing and in the next breath accusing them of being too slow. What is clear is that Wales are an unbalanced unit, with Giggs trying to shoehorn his rich attacking options into a team framework.

Midfield is a problematic department, too easy to play through, and Giggs might need to sacrifice a forward to exert more control in that crucial area.

BALE BACK TO HIS BEST

Where would Wales be without Gareth Bale? Out of the running for a Euro 2020 place almost certainly. Skipper Bale might be 30 now, but he showed he had lost none of his appetite against Azerbaijan with an energetic performance and a late winner.

Bale might not usually be expected to line up in a friendly. But with no weekend game because of a suspension at Real Madrid, his presence could boost what is expected to be a modest attendance.

RODON RISE

As well as three points and Bale’s performance against Azerbaijan, Giggs will have been heartened by the debut of Joe Rodon. The 21-year-old slotted into an inexperienced defence as if he had been playing there for some time.

Rodon, a confident ball-playing centre-back, has been a key component of Swansea’s climb to the top of the Championship this season and has a big future ahead of him.

GROUP BATTLES

It is Wales’ turn to sit out Group E action as the second half of Euro 2020 qualifying action kicks off. Wales are three points behind Croatia and Hungary and level with Slovakia in the race for a top-two spot.

So there will be one eye on games elsewhere, with Azerbaijan at home to Croatia and Hungary entertaining Slovakia. Wins for Croatia and Hungary would represent a blow to booking an automatic finals ticket.

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