If you ask any Wales fan what their recent success has been built on, they’ll immediately point to their solid backline.
Prior to the start of Euro 2020, Rob Page’s side had kept a whopping ten clean sheets in their previous 13 outings, a run which started at the back end of their successful qualifying campaign for this summer’s tournament.
Now, building solid foundations upon which you can develop a side is all well and good, but unless you’ve got a bit of magic at the top end of the field you’re not going to get far in international football – or any level of football for that matter.
Wales’ opening day draw with Switzerland was testament to that fact. Page’s men offered little in the way of an attacking threat and they needed a bit of brilliance from Kieffer Moore to rescue them a point.
The pair looked lively from the off with Bale picking up pockets of space in between the Turkey midfield and backline before lifting his head up and looking to cause problems. Similarly, Ramsey was doing exactly what he was put in the team to do, bursting beyond Moore with late runs which the opposition just couldn’t keep under control.
Despite the pair seemingly being in the mood to produce match-winning performances, the Juventus man’s finishing left a lot to be desired, with one late run into the box in particular affording him a glorious opportunity to steady himself before picking his spot, only for him to lean back and blaze his effort well over the crossbar.
Not to be deterred, Ramsey continued to press and probe, and with just minutes to go before half-time he and Bale combined to drag their side towards a place in the knockout rounds.
After Ramsey had burst beyond the statuesque Caglar Soyuncu and Kaan Ayhan, Bale did superbly to lift his head and pick out a pinpoint pass to his teammate. Despite being in the clear there was still plenty for Ramsey to do, though he made the rest look easy as he killed the ball with his chest before sweeping it beyond Ugurcan Cakır.
As the second half progressed Bale had the Turkish side in the palm of his hand and when he picked the ball up and drove into the box you could sense they were desperate to bring him down – which they did.
Referee Artur Soares Dias showed no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot, though the Real Madrid man’s resulting spot kick was quite frankly woeful as he fired well over the crossbar.
The pair had both missed great opportunities in the game but showed the courage and the mentality needed to make it at the very top as they carried on demanding the ball and subsequently caused Turkey no end of problems, with Bale capping an amazing performance with a late run to tee up Connor Roberts who slotted home to make it 2-0 in the dying embers of the game.
It would be remiss to completely overlook the performance of the rest of the Wales side – with their backline and goalkeeper Danny Ward superb throughout – though the bit of magic needed at the top end of the pitch was provided by the usual suspects as they notched their first win of Euro 2020.