Gales, el sueño de los dragones rojos

Gales, el sueño de los dragones rojos

Gales, un país en el que tres millones de personas se unen y gritan al son del «Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau» cada vez que su Cymru salta al campo. Desde Cardiff hasta las costas de Porthmadog el sentimiento de los dragones rojos esta presente siempre que sus once representantes saltan a defender el escudo.

Tras 57 años sin competiciones grandes, llegaron a la Eurocopa 2016, donde hicieron un gran papel y dejaron una grandísima historia que contar a toda la población galesa. Ahora, cinco años después el reto es el mismo, actualizar esa historia para que las futuras generaciones puedan ver lo que hizo su selección. Con una convocatoria rejuvenecida y unas ganas por comerse Europa que tan solo leones hambrientos como ellos tendrían, Gales va a la conquista de su grupo.

Como ya es habitual, en mi grupo de amigos tiramos mucho por «los otros», y en esta Eurocopa 2020 no iba a ser diferente. Nombres como el de Escocia, Turquía, Suecia aparecieron, pero el que más se repitió fue el de los dragones rojos. ¿Serán la sorpresa de la Eurocopa?

 

57 años después, Eurocopa

Gales llegó a la Eurocopa 2016 como el boxeador debutante que sale victorioso en una velada histórica. Compartía el papel de «underdog» junto a una Islandia que también sorprendió. Con Chris Coleman a los mandos del navío galés, los dragones rojos zarparon hasta la primera posición de un grupo que no era para nada fácil.

Compartirían grupo con Inglaterra, Eslovaquia y Rusia. Los galeses sorprendieron a todo aquel que decidió seguir la Eurocopa de cerca, quedó primera de grupo por encima de Inglaterra, una de las favoritas para alzarse con el trofeo. Gareth Bale y Hal Robson-Kanu hicieron volar a una Gales, que con sus goles, llegaron a las fases eliminatorias.

En esas fases se encontrarían primero con Irlanda del Norte, un partido de tramite que se resolvió con un gol en propia puerta. Tras el subidón, llegaría la Bélgica de Nainggolan, De Bruyne, Fellaini… Y acabaría siendo uno de los partidos más recordados de aquella Euro. Los dragones rojos demostraron tener mucho corazón y mucha fe, y sorprendieron a una de las favoritas para colocarse en semifinales tras 57 años.

 

 

Los galeses acabarían siendo eliminados por Portugal, pero nadie les quita el merito de haber llegado hasta las semifinales en su primera Eurocopa de la historia. Sin duda, la generación que llevo a Gales hasta el punto de ser la octava mejor selección del mundo será recordada para siempre.

 

Caemos y nos levantamos juntos

La caída de Gales tras la Eurocopa fue estrepitosa, Chris Coleman presentó su dimisión tras no lograr el objetivo de meter a los dragones rojos en un mundial. Tras este varapalo, la Federación decidió llamar a alguien que llenaría de ilusión a todo jugador galés, alguien que les haría sentir orgullo por representar a su país.

Ryan Giggs, leyenda del Manchester United y de la propia Gales, se haría cargo del banquillo. Lo primero que hizo el de Cardiff fue rejuvenecer una plantilla que necesitaba un cambio de ciclo, jugadores como Daniel James, Ethan Ampadu, Dylan Levitt, Ben Cabango… entrarían de forma más habitual en las convocatorias.

La juventud de ellos mezclada con la experiencia de Gareth Bale, Joe Allen, Wayne Hennessey, Aaron Ramsey… fue la pócima perfecta, ya que Gales lograría levantarse tras la caída que supuso la no clasificación al Mundial de Rusia. Los de Ryan Giggs lograrían clasificarse para la Eurocopa 2020.

Eran tiempos de felicidad para Gales, pero otra ola aún más grande azotó sus costas, Ryan Giggs se vería salpicado por un asunto extradeportivo meses antes de la Eurocopa. Tras valorar la gravedad del asunto, la Federación decidió relevarlo del puesto y poner a Rob Page. Tras esta caída mediática, Rob Page se aseguraría de que no afectara al equipo y los llevó a quedar primeros de su grupo en la UEFA Nations League.

Cosecharon victorias importantes antes de la Eurocopa 2020, haciéndolos un rival a tomar en cuenta.

 

La Eurocopa 2020

La convocatoria que presentó Rob Page es una mezcla entre juventud y experiencia, y con jugadores idóneos tanto para el 3-4-3 como para el 4-3-3 que suele alinear Gales sobre el césped

Los puntos débiles de esta Gales pueden estar en portería y en la forma física de varios jugadores que a priori, jugarían un papel muy importante dentro del esquema. En portería están Adam Davies, Wayne Hennessey y Danny Ward, ninguno es titular en su club y eso puede presentar un dilema a la hora de elegir al titular, aunque Danny Ward parezca el elegido para cubrir la meta galesa.

La forma física de varios jugadores también puede darle quebraderos de cabeza a Rob Page, ya que piezas importantes como Joe Allen o Aaron Ramsey llevan sin jugar un partido desde los meses de marzo y abril respectivamente. En la zaga el causante del mismo problema es Ben Davies, aunque ya parece estar recuperado.

Pero también hay muchos brotes verdes, la reencarnación de Gareth Bale, que tras su exitoso periplo en el Tottenham será quien tenga que guiar a Gales a repetir la actuación de 2016. El delantero tendrá que aportar esa velocidad y esos goles para mantener el navío a flote.

Daniel James y Harry Wilson también deben dar el do de pecho y postularse como piezas importantes de la Gales del futuro. Rob Page ya ha demostrado su confianza en ambos, alineándolos juntos en ataque junto al «expreso de Cardiff». Kieffer Moore está teniendo un papel fundamental en la punta de ataque, incluso anotando en el primer partido frente a Suiza. Un partido que finalmente acabó en empate. Ahora les espera un partido vital ante la guardia turca.

¿Será Gales quien dé la campanada?

 

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