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How Wales have overcome challenges to make flying start to Euro 2020

How Wales have overcome challenges to make flying start to Euro 2020
© Reuters
The Dragons have four points from their opening two games.

Wales are on the brink of reaching the last 16 of Euro 2020 after beating Turkey 2-0 in Baku on Wednesday.

Robert Page's side have four points from two games ahead of meeting Group A leaders Italy in Rome on Sunday.

Here, the PA news agency examines how Wales have achieved against the backdrop of a difficult pre-tournament build-up when manager Ryan Giggs was put on leave.

So what exactly happened before the Euros?

Wales v Hungary – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group E – Cardiff City Stadium
Wales players celebrate after beating Hungary to qualify for Euro 2020 (Nick Potts/PA)

Well, it was all going swimmingly when Wales reached Euro 2020 in November 2019. They qualified by finishing second behind group winners Croatia and Giggs had developed an exciting, young squad with Euro 2016 survivors Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen providing experience and inspiration. But Euro 2020 was delayed 12 months by the Covid-19 pandemic and Giggs, who had been appointed Wales manager in January 2018, was arrested in November 2020.

What is the situation with Ryan Giggs?

Ryan Giggs court case
Wales manager Ryan Giggs faces a January trial date (Peter Byrne/PA)

The former Manchester United star faces charges of assaulting two women and controlling or coercive behaviour. It is alleged Giggs, 47, assaulted former girlfriend Kate Greville and caused her actual bodily harm at his home in Manchester. Giggs is also charged with the common assault by beating of Ms Greville's younger sister, Emma, in the same alleged incident. The Wales boss is also alleged to have engaged in controlling and coercive behaviour towards Kate Greville between December 2017 and November 2020. Giggs denies the charges and is due to stand trial in January 2022.

How has it affected Wales?

Wales v Albania – International Friendly – Cardiff City Stadium
Wales have kept on winning under interim manager Robert Page (Nick Potts/PA)

Giggs was put on leave after his arrest on November 1 and assistant coach Page, a former Wales captain, took charge. Page has kept in close contact with Giggs since, saying he speaks regularly to his former Wales team-mate. Page took charge of eight games before Euro 2020, winning four of them. The only defeats came against the world's top two ranked teams – Belgium and France. Page is an understated character, but he was a tough defender who captained the teams he played for. He has the respect of a dressing room in which the senior players are hugely influential.

How have they been successful?

Azerbaijan Turkey Wales Euro 2020 Soccer
Aaron Ramsey (left) and captain Gareth Bale (right) remain key to Wales' success (Tolga Bozoglu/AP)

The plan has not changed since the baton was passed from Giggs to Page. Despite a lack of regular Premier League performers and a handful of Championship players, Wales are an organised unit who have lost only once in their last 14 competitive games. Bale and Ramsey provide the stardust and were simply too good for Turkey. Wales have other attacking weapons in the pace of Daniel James and the aerial ability of 6ft 5ins Kieffer Moore, making them a threat to any Euro 2020 opponent.

What does the future hold?

Who knows? The Football Association of Wales have put the whole Giggs situation on the backburner amid their manager's ongoing legal case. The FAW did not want any distractions before the Euros. But will it – or can it – address their managerial situation after the tournament with vital World Cup qualifying games resuming in September? It would be no surprise if Page remained at the helm.

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Wales' Aaron Ramsey during the warm up on June 5, 2021
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Monday's key events


ATHLETICS
· There are no Brits in the women's 100m hurdles final, but Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, fresh from breaking the Olympic record in the semis, will hope to pip world record holder Kendra Harrison to gold (3.50am)
· The women's 5000m final also has no Team GB representation, but two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be looking to add an Olympic gold to her list of honours (1.40pm)

SAILING
· The women's skiff 49er FX (6.33am) and men's skiff 49er (7.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races

FOOTBALL
· A place in the women's gold medal match is up for grabs, starting with an all-North American semi-final between United States and Canada (9am)
· Australia, who edged past Team GB's in a seven-goal quarter-final thriller, take on Sweden in the second semi-final (12pm)

CYCLING
· The track cycling schedule gets underway, with Team GB holding a particular interest in the team pursuit qualifying. Laura Kenny is part of the women's team (7.54am), while the men's team includes Ed Clancy (9.02am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· The Gadirova twins Jessica and Jennifer will both take part in the women's floor final as they look to add to their team bronze (9.57am)

WEIGHTLIFTING
· Newly-crowned European champion Emily Campbell flies the flag for Great Britain in the women's +87kg, but faces stiff competition for medals from China's Li Wenwen and New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard (11.50am)

HOCKEY
· The women's hockey quarter-finals begin, with Team GB last up against Spain (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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