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No Gareth Bale? No Problem for Wales

Thursday 5th October 2017
Every Welsh fan dreaded the news: their talisman will miss Wales' final two games against Georgia and Ireland. Fans should not fear, though. No Gareth Bale, no problem.

Granted, that's a bold claim. Especially when one considers Wales' record without its superstar. Sans Bale, the Dragons have not won since 2013. That is a particularly dreadful statistic and does demonstrate the forward's importance to the team. Bale makes the Welsh attack tick. His electric pace, clever blend of strength and movement, and deceiving shots add a dimension to the nation's play few others can replicate.

Bale is truly world class. Despite his indifferent form, he had begun to regain his stride with Real Madrid. It is no shame that Wales' fans are crushed by the news. The same would be the case for Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo.
News of his loss was greeted with celebration in Ireland, however. Online bookies PaddyPower released a satirical video. Some aggrieved Welsh fans found it in bad taste. It does, however, show that the Irish believe they have a greater chance of beating Wales in Monday's potentially crucial Cardiff showdown.

But if we rewind back to Portugal and Ronaldo, we see a different, more promising picture emerge. Ronaldo limped off in Portugal's Euro 2016 final with hosts France, a sight no one in world football, much less Portugal wished to see, regardless your opinion on the man. Social media was quickly awash with predictions of an emphatic French win. How could Portugal, a one-man team, possibly defeat the star-studded hosts?

Collective spirit; industry; team-work; a flash of the divine turned out to be the answer. Portugal's triumph, via an extra-time winner, should have cast aside all ignorant arguments regarding one-man teams. It didn't, though. They still persist.

Wales is definitely weaker without Bale but their recent success has been founded upon so much more than one him. The Together Stronger mantra encapsulates the team's true spirit. A seed of unity was planted and has blossomed into an International semi-final, against all odds.
Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen's collective creative force will help fill the void; these will be two big, big matches for Ramsey. He simply must step up and produce for Wales. He has hit good form for his Arsenal since his introduction into the no.10 role. Now he must do the same for Chris Coleman away to Georgia and home to Ireland.

Wales also boasts the pace and trickery of Tom Lawrence, who impressed in his recent performances for Wales. A certain Ben Woodburn can also be magical on his day, though only a youngster. Sam Vokes has also looked sharp for Burnley, as has his striking partner Hal Robson-Kanu at West Brom. An unlikely source might also provide the creativity. Spurs' Ben Davies has been among Mauricio Pochettino's most potent attacking players from his left back position.

Wales have sufficient quality to see off Georgia and defeat Ireland without Bale. Georgia is dangerous in Tbilisi but if Wales cannot beat the Georgians, they do not deserve qualification. The same can be said for Ireland's visit to the Millennium Stadium.

The Republic have serious limitations that have been exposed recently. Even without their topknotted warrior, Wales still have enough quality to exploit such deficiencies. So, no Gareth Bale, no problem.
Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97

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