When we look back to that faithful night in Lille when Wales beat giants Belgium from the Euro 2016, we are going to have a tough time finding a stand out performer for the Welsh team.
This victory was a collective effort and epitomized more than ever the value of team work and cohesion among footballers playing for their national sides.
On paper Wales were no match for Belgium. The talents of Joe Allen, Joe Ledley, and Aaron Ramsey pale in comparison to those of Hazard, De Bruyne, and Lukaku but yet still they found a way to beat them and they did it even after going behind early on.
The emphasis on a whole being greater than the sum of all its individual parts is ever so highlighted here. The Belgium team has the most expensive squad at the Euros and have long been heralded as the Golden Generation of Belgian Football. Perhaps, that tag has not helped either – placing pressure on their already weighted shoulders.
On Friday night, Wales gave a true lesson on teamwork. The ever tireless Ashley Williams marshalled the defense ever so gallantly alongside Gunter and Chester. Aaron Ramsey was at the heart of every pivotal move for the Welsh team – providing two assists on the night. Quite a shame he will miss the semifinals. Gareth Bale took somewhat of a supporting cast role, linking up play and hold up the ball to allow his teammates to join play. He was not the main protagonist tonight. The whole team was. Robson Kanu took his goal brilliantly after a wonderful turn and so too did his replacement Sam Voakes, whose header from Gunter’s cross put the game well beyond Belgium. And Joe Allen was ever present again in the midfield keeping things tidy and providing occasional cover for the defense.
In contrast however, Belgium were a team of disjointed players. After an impressive showing against Hungary, many got carried away and the belief that they would finally live up to their potential looked inevitable. They were the much fancied side against a supposedly weak Welsh side, but that wasn’t the case on the night. Eden Hazard was slow in attack, allowing defenders to regroup when a quick counter was on. De Bruyne struggled as the Welsh defense stifled his every move. The defense was in shambles too – no understanding whatsoever evident in their play.
That performance cost them a place in the semis but take nothing away from this Welsh side who have reminded once again what this game of football is all about – TEAMWORK.