UEFA Euro 2016 contenders – Wales

Wales created history last year as they qualified for their first ever European Championship. Their last participation at a major tournament was way back in 1958 when they qualified for the World Cup in Sweden. It had been a long wait for the Welsh since, but they will finally get to strut their stuff at the European Championship in France next summer.

Wales were not in a particularly easy group in the qualifying either and had to contend with 2014 World Cup qualifiers Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina for a spot in France. And they registered six wins, and three draws to finish second behind Belgium in their group to qualify directly for continental competition.

The Cardiff City Stadium erupts as Gareth Bale gets onto a terrible backwards header from Nainggolan, turns and shoots past Courtois. The hosts Wales defeated Belgium in the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Wayne Hennessey of Crystal Palace was entrusted with the goalkeeping duties by manager Chris Coleman and ahead of him Swansea City captain Ashley Williams enjoyed a stellar campaign and he was ably supported by long-serving West Ham United defender James Collins in a strong centre-back pairing. Chris Gunter, Neil Taylor, Tottenham Hotspur’s Ben Davies and James Chester were other defensive options for Coleman.

The midfield had strong players in David Cotterill, Joe Ledley, Andy King, Joe Allen and David Edwards. While Arsenal first choice Aaron Ramsey ran the show from the middle of the park.

Gareth Bale is the undisputed star of the Welsh side, but there was a lot more to Coleman’s side than just the big names of Ramsey and Bale. In attack, Sam Vokes and Hal Robson-Kanu made valuable contributions to their team’s cause to pave the way for their qualification to Euro 2016 in France.

The Dragons have been placed in Group B that comprises of England, Russia and Slovakia; and Coleman’s men will surely fancying their chances of qualifying to the knockout stage of the tournament, especially with its expanded format that allows best third-placed teams to move to the next round.

England are the favourites to top group B, and it could be a straight fight between Russia and Wales for a top two finish. However, Wales should be favourites with the disarray that Russia are in. If things go according to plan, and Bale hits top form at the tournament, then the Dragons can even make the last four.