Wales outclassed Ireland on Thursday evening as they commenced their UEFA Nations League campaign with a 4-1 demolition of Martin O’Neill’s charges.
The Irish team and management especially have come in for stinging criticism but Wales gave an excellent performance.
Here we discuss the main reasons for Wales to be optimistic as Ryan Giggs puts his own stamp on this current crop of players.
Bale is back in business
Gareth Bale showed his class with the goal of the night when he turned Ciaran Clark inside out before firing a left footed shot that gave Darren Randolph no chance.
He ended the season strongly with Real Madrid as his double ended Liverpool’s dreams of Champions League glory. He has hit three goals in three games for Los Blancos this in La Liga.
His assist for Connor Robert’s goal showed his class and his fitness will be of vital importance to Real Madrid and Wales.
The 17-year-old defensive midfielder gave an assured performance as he helped Wales dominate the midfield against an abject Ireland side.
His father Kwame represented Ireland at underage level and wanted him to don the green of Ireland but the young prospect decided to represent the country of his birth.
He has a bright future ahead after choosing Wales over Ireland, England and Ghana. Ireland’s loss is most definitely Wales’ gain.
Wales have pace throughout their team
There is no substitute for pace in international football and Ireland are lacking this key ingredient.
The Welsh three of Ethan Ampadu, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen were dynamic in everything they did.
The speed of the Welsh passing led them to open up the Irish defence repeatedly over the course of the 90 minutes.
Martin O’Neill’s makeshift side were mesmerised by the Welsh pace and it is clear that Ryan Giggs has worked his players hard on the training ground.
Ireland’s injury problems highlighted their current lack of depth in certain key areas.
There were no such problems for the Welsh who could afford to leave Ben Woodburn out of their 23-man squad.
They also had experience on the bench with 88 capped Chris Gunter and Newcastle’s Paul Dummett unable to force their way into the Welsh backline while Neil Taylor was unable to make the squad.
There is strong competition for places with a new manager in charge who is not afraid to give young players a chance.
Possession based football
Wales’ ability to pass the ball at ease is highlighted in the fact that they completed 563 passes compared to Ireland’s 219.
They were noticeably quicker in possession while their fourth goal showcased their improvements on the ball as Connor Roberts finished off a free-flowing move.
Joe Allen’s assist for Wales’ first goal was wonderful while Ethan Ampadu played a clever ball into Aaron Ramsey for the Arsenal midfielder’s goal.
Ben Davies’ diagonal ball to Gareth Bale that led the Real Madrid star to score showed The Dragons have the ability to mix their passing. Only one team tried to play a passing game and it certainly was not Ireland.
Wales face Denmark in their next Nations League game this Sunday knowing that a win there will put them well on their way to topping the group.