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Danny Ward’s world class performance as Wales earn a point in Baku
Saturday, 12th Jun 2021 16:22 by Gruff Stephens

The hype before the game was very positive towards this years Wales Euro ambitions, but the intensity of the day, the near thirty degrees heat match seemed to drain Wales for this 5pm local time kick off. The favourites as expected were Switzerland, and their wealth of quick, strong and high level performing players in their starting eleven was evident. To see so many Wales followers in Baku, estimated around 700, all together for once, with flags from all over the country must have inspired the hearts and encouraged the minds of everyone present.

Dan James inclusion was expected and his pace in the first half worried the Swiss back four earning him several free kicks. Gareth Bale seemed off the pace at times, but it was Wales though who caused the early problems. Moore had a tremendous header turned away by Sommer in the Swiss goal, but that really was all Wales could muster bar some tidy inter play in between Swiss domination.

Embolo took the game by the scruff of the neck and was rewarded with the opening goal. Nothing more than he and his side deserved on the balance of play. Mbabu too was lively and strong in possession piling forwards to persistently worry the Wales back four. Goalkeeper Danny Ward had to be alert to keep out Fabien Schar's shot then Xhaka and Seferovic both hot efforts just wide. Davies too was lucky not to have a penalty awarded against him. Seferovic wasted a glorious chance just before the break, blazing over the bar after Embolo's lay-off inside the box, although replays suggest Chris Mepham was perhaps lucky not to have given away a penalty after seemingly attempting to swap shirts early.

These games are all about the end result, not what happens on the way, especially when your opponent hasn’t got the ability to win the game.

Set pieces were to become a buzz line for the game and the first half was all about Switzerland pushing Wales at every opportunity. Ward in the Wales goal pulled off another reflex save and once again proved Robert Page right to pick him as his number one. That would certainly be the case in the second half when Ward again pulled off some tremendous saves. Wales too were unlucky, two shots from Ben Davies went north before Kieffer Moore at last showed some aggression across his markers and guided in a terrific header in to the back of the Swiss net.

Gavranovic thought he had sneaked a winner for Switzerland towards the end, but he was clearly offside, thankfully VAR and the fifth official saw it. There were times in the second half when Wales looked jaded, almost out on their feet, yes the heat was incredible although that didn’t undermine the efforts of Dan James whose pace continued to concern Switzerland. The Wales goal was under siege for the last ten minutes, edgy is a word to use for each and every cross that came in but Wales survived. They start off the competition with a point, a well earned draw which makes tonight’s table look more than decent for us all.

Robert Page was happy after the game and told the BBC “We wanted a positive start, and yes, it does feel like a win, that was the start we were after. It was positive. Maybe a bit of Lady Luck. Turkey are different, not like Switzerland, no disrespect to anyone, the Swiss are a big physical team they have a lot of quality. It was an entertaining game. Dan James was taken off for the good of the team, he looked dead in his feet. It’s all about the squad, Dan is fine now no problems. Keifer poses a threat, he has a good touch and a willing runner. He’s a a great season. And of course it was hot, we’ve been here for seven days,the players did struggle with the heat, we’ve factored as much of this weeks training to manage that “

Gareth Bale “ It was a tight tense game, a one all draw is a good result. We went one nil down but we showed a lot of character and determination and grit. We’ve got character. We worked very hard, it was very hot. We will use this as a springboard, recover and get ready for Wednesday “

Well, it’s Turkey next on Wednesday. Plenty of Swans flags here In Azerbaijan, plenty of unity and let’s hope it stays that way.

Wales: Ward; C Roberts, Mepham, Rodon, B Davies; Allen, Morrell; Bale (C), Ramsey, James (Brooks 75); Moore

Subs: Hennessey, A. Davies, Gunter, N. Williams, Lockyer, Wilson, T. Roberts, Ampadu, Norrington-Davies, J. Williams

Goal: Moore 74

Switzerland: Sommer; Elvedi, Schar, Akanji; Mbabu, Xhaka (c), Freuler, Rodriguez; Embolo, Shaqiri (Zakaria 66), Seferovic

Subs: Mvogo, Omlin, Widmer, Vargas, Zuber, Sow, Fassnacht, Benito, Mehmedi, Gavranovic, Comert

Goal: Embolo 50

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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ReslovenSwan1 added 23:08 - Jun 12
All Welsh managers find out the hard way for Wales it must be 3-5-2. Away thrashings have forced it on us. Coleman went there after Serbia 1-5 in 2014 or so. Mepham struggles at this level. Ampadu with a back three. Bring in fresh legs Levitt Neco and Brooks.

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