Bale prepared for “big challenge”

Warren Ashurst
June 25th 2021, 8:01 pm
Last Updated 3 years ago
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Gareth Bale says Wales are fully aware of the threat that Denmark pose and he insists his side are ready for a difficult test in Saturday’s last-16 tie at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam.

Wales enjoyed a magnificent run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, bowing out to eventual champions Portugal, but the Dragons’ expectation levels were relatively low heading into the 2020 edition.

Having just edged into second place in qualifying for the major tournament, Robert Page’s men didn’t win either of their two warm-up matches but they have managed to reach the last-16 stage.

Led by captain Bale, Wales ended up second in Group A, drawing with Switzerland and beating Turkey before losing to unbeaten Italy, and they have been rewarded with a clash against Denmark in the first knockout phase.

It has been an emotional roller-coaster during the tournament for Denmark, who had star man Christian Eriksen collapse during their opening game against Finland and rushed to hospital after receiving CPR on the pitch.

The Danes have been able to muster up the strength and courage to finish second in Group B and they will have their own thoughts of progressing to the quarter-finals, where either the Netherlands or Czech Republic will wait.

Real Madrid forward Bale, who has yet to score at Euro 2020 and missed a penalty in the win over Turkey, knows the difficulties that his side will face on Saturday but is confident his side can overcome the odds.

“It’s another big challenge. We know Denmark are a very good team, very well organised and have some very good players,” he said at a press conference ahead of Saturday’s game.

“So they won’t be underestimated by us. We’ll be ready to go come kick-off and put in a big performance.”

Bale also responded after being asked about Wales being underdogs, adding: “That’s normal anyway. We’re always the underdogs and used to that tag. It doesn’t make a difference to us.

“Obviously we understand the situation that happened with them and we’ve sent all our best wishes to Christian. What a great job the Denmark team did with that. But come game day tomorrow it will be just us and them on the pitch, and hopefully we can put a great performance in and get the job done.”

Denmark completed a Nations League double over Wales in 2018 when the two countries last met, winning 2-0 in Aarhus and 2-1 in Cardiff.

None of the previous 10 meetings between the sides have finished level, with Wales winning four games to Denmark’s six, but there is every chance this contest could go all the way to penalties.

Wales will be without the suspended Ethan Ampadu, but Page otherwise has no known injury issues to contend with and the head coach is likely to revert to the starting XI he used for the draw with Switzerland and victory over Turkey.

As for Denmark, they are expected to stick with the same 11 that overcame Russia last time out, with the decision to play a back-three formation paying off for manager Kasper Hjulmand.

Warren Ashurst

Warren has been employed as a sport journalist for over two decades and as well as years of written experience, has also worked in other areas of the media including radio and television. Football has always been his number one passion and has covered both domestic and international level.