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Five talking points from Wales's Euro 2020 campaign

Five talking points from Wales's Euro 2020 campaign
© Reuters
Wales went out in the last-16 of the competition following a 4-0 defeat to Denmark.

Wales bowed out of Euro 2020 by losing 4-0 to Denmark in the round-of-16 on Saturday.

The Dragons progressed from a tough group after trips to Baku and Rome, but were no match for Denmark in Amsterdam.

Here, the PA news agency looks at five things learned from Wales' Euro 2020 journey.

Bale not the force of 2016

Italy v Wales – UEFA Euro 2020 – Group A – Stadio Olimpico
Wales talisman Gareth Bale struggled to hit the heights he did at Euro 2016 (Marco Iacobucci/PA)

There were flashes – especially in the 2-0 defeat of Turkey – but Euro 2020 showed what most suspected when it came to Gareth Bale. He was not the rampaging force of five years ago when Wales reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016. Nearing his 32nd birthday, the Real Madrid forward has had to adapt his game and those blistering bursts have become far less frequent. Bale still oozes quality and his brilliance set up both goals in beating Turkey. But he has now gone 15 Wales games without scoring, and his wild penalty miss against Turkey summed up his fortunes in front of goal.

Page proved safe pair of hands

Netherlands Wales Denmark Euro 2020 Soccer
Robert Page took the Wales job in difficult circumstances (Peter Dejong/AP)

Robert Page became Wales boss in tough circumstances. Page has been in charge since November with Ryan Giggs on leave to face court charges, which he denies. The former Wales captain knows many of the younger players from his time with the Under-21s and is a popular figure. Page spoke well to the media at Euro 2020 but had no answers when Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand tweaked his tactics after Wales had made a positive start in Amsterdam. The question for Football Association of Wales bosses is what happens next with the next World Cup qualifiers just over two months away and Giggs' court case not heard until January.

Young players offer promise

Azerbaijan Turkey Wales Euro 2020 Soccer
Connor Roberts scored in Wales' 2-0 victory against Turkey (Naomi Baker/AP)

Several Wales players enhanced their reputation at Euro 2020. Full-back Connor Roberts scored against Turkey and brought huge energy before being cut down by injury in Amsterdam. Joe Rodon was impressive in central defence and will hope to press on at Tottenham next season. Daniel James' pace and direct approach made him an attacking threat. Others did not get as many minutes as they would have wanted. But Wales boasted the third youngest squad in the tournament and will be better for the experience. The problem for Welsh football is that Bale and Aaron Ramsey are not getting any younger and filling that eventual void presents a huge challenge.

More minutes please

Italy Wales Euro 2020 Soccer
Joe Morrell (right) played every game for Wales at Euro 2020 without appearing for his club Luton since February (Alberto Lingria/AP)

Page made the point after Wales' exit that his players needed more domestic game time. Goalkeeper Danny Ward has yet to play a Premier League game in three years at Leicester. Centre-back pairing Rodon and Chris Mepham had limited action at Tottenham and Bournemouth last term. Midfielder Joe Morrell had not played for Luton since February. Even their leading lights, Bale and Ramsey, only featured intermittently for Spurs and Juventus respectively. It was a situation that eventually caught up with Wales as they simply ran out of steam.

Ward the undisputed number one

Azerbaijan Turkey Wales Euro 2020 Soccer
Leicester's Danny Ward became Wales' undisputed first-choice goalkeeper at Euro 2020 (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

Danny Ward has waited a long time to don the Wales gloves on a consistent basis. Wayne Hennessey has been the number one goalkeeper for well over a decade and won 96 caps. But Ward got the nod at Euro 2020 after performing well in the first two World Cup qualifiers in March. Ward has made only 14 first-team appearances in three seasons at Leicester but did not let that stop him excelling at the Euros. The 28-year-old was a formidable last barrier, making crucial stops in the three group games against Switzerland, Turkey and Italy. Ward was badly exposed against Denmark and has a hold on the number one jersey for now.

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Wales attacker Gareth Bale pictured at Euro 2020 on June 16, 2021
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