Giggs’ absence puts pressure on Bale to deliver for Wales at Euro 2020


Wales will go to Euro 2020 without embattled boss Ryan Giggs, highlighting Gareth Bale’s bid to silence critics who say he has lost his appetite for success.

Giggs’ absence after his arrest for assaulting two women last year will cast a shadow over Wales during the Euros.

The former Manchester United star faces trial in 2022 after being accused of hitting and controlling his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville throughout their relationship.

Giggs is also charged with common assault on Greville’s sister, Emma, ​​in the same incident.

The 47-year-old took charge of Wales in 2018 and made an impression by leading them to the European Championship, their second major tournament appearance since the 1958 World Cup.

But Giggs, who denies the charges, has been on furlough since November last year, with caretaker boss Robert Page taking over.

Page has won four of his six games since replacing Giggs, Wales’ only defeat in that spell against the world’s top-ranked side Belgium.

If Wales are to thrive in Giggs’ absence, it falls to Bale to prove that his erratic loan spell with Tottenham Hotspur this season was not further proof that his love for the game is waning.

Despite scoring 16 goals, Bale was unable to make a consistent impact on his return to Tottenham despite hopes that escaping his miserable time at Real Madrid would invigorate the Wales captain.

Hampered by fitness issues and a frosty relationship with Jose Mourinho before he was sacked, Bale has barely refuted the theory that he no longer has the drive to dominate at the top level.

After celebrating Wales qualifying for the Euros by waving a flag that read ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order’, Bale has the chance to show that knocking at Real was more than a hollow patriotism.

– Bullet load –

Despite the exit of his nemesis from Real Madrid, coach Zinedine Zidane, Bale is reportedly considering negotiating a payment to avoid returning to Madrid.

It has also been suggested that the four-time Champions League winner could quit football altogether and try his hand at professional golf, a claim denied by his agent, Jonathan Barnett.

Bale fueled speculation of a possible bombshell announcement when asked about his future following his brace in Tottenham’s final Premier League game of the season at Leicester City.

“I know what I’m doing, but it will only cause chaos if I say anything. It will have to happen after the Euros,” Bale said.

“I can’t think of anything other than Wales.”

After their fairy tale run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, Wales will need Bale at their best to be poised to repeat that success.

“We would like to replicate what we did at Euro 2016, but we are realistic. It’s a different team, a different tournament,” Bale said.

Page’s side will start against Switzerland in Baku on June 12, with matches against Turkey and Italy rounding out their group schedule.

The bulk of Page’s squad plies their trade in the English second tier, with 19-year-old midfielder Rubin Colwill a surprise inclusion after making his Cardiff City debut in February.

“He blew us all away with his demeanor and conduct. He’s already a top professional,” Page said of Colwill.

Wales have won just four of their eight qualifying matches, including two against Azerbaijan, as they finished second in qualifying Group E behind Croatia.

They have scored just 10 goals in eight qualifying games, putting pressure on Bale to shine.

Finding a way for Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey to overcome his fitness issues will also be crucial.

“Ryan’s key principles when he took over are no different and whether he’s here or not, the guys know exactly how we expect them to play,” Page said.

smg/pb/as

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