Gareth Bale and Wales focus on getting home in order ahead of World Cup | Wales


When England exited Euro 2016 via an ignominious loss to Iceland, Wales rejoiced in their misery, celebrating at their hotel in Dinard. A video of the Wales squad jumping for joy and huddling as the England players fell to the ground like dominoes has gone viral.

England’s relegation from the Nations League is unmistakable and neither was Wales, 67 days from when they faced each other in their last Group B match at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, were never going to consider a repeat of those scenes, which, it’s fair to say, received mixed reviews.

It’s a long five games without a win for England and four for Wales but the latter find themselves undeniably in a good position ahead of hosting Poland on Sunday, buoyed by a strong second-half performance in Thursday’s defeat against Belgium, n°2 in the Fifa ranking. . Then there’s the small matter of a trip to Qatar and a first World Cup in 64 years on the horizon.

Wales’ first Group B opponents USA have also been unconvincing of late and slipped to defeat against Japan on Friday, but Gareth Bale isn’t reading too much into recent setbacks. their rivals. “People are going to improve their games, the players may not be playing well but in two months they will be playing better,” said Wales captain Bale.

Wales manager Rob Page watched England’s loss to Italy with his side in Cardiff and is flying to Spain next week to watch the United take on Arabia Saudi Arabia in their last warm-up match. Ultimately, however, he knows Wales need to get their own house in order. “I’m surprised how the group fared,” said Page of England, who entertain Germany at Wembley on Monday.

“They faced a very good Italian side who could have scored a few more goals. You’re always surprised when England don’t do so well because of the expectations they’ve placed on themselves over the years, but it’s is hers to worry about and deal with now.

“We have work in progress that we are fully focused on. From the final whistle, we will prepare for the World Cup.

Page will be forced into at least two changes for the visit to Poland, with Ethan Ampadu and Chris Mepham both suspended, while Bale is expected to return to the starting line-up. Page insists there will be no surprises when the teams are read aloud an hour before kick-off at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Bale is yet to complete 90 minutes since joining Los Angeles FC in the summer, but he feels he is slowly heading towards peak condition. “I’m closer than I’ve been in recent years, that’s for sure,” Bale says. “It’s about playing minutes and games and I’m starting to do that much more often now.

“The more I play, the fitter I get. I hope I can start to peak and get stronger and stronger as soon as possible.

Bale’s condition has been aided by regular dialogue between LAFC and the Football Association of Wales medical team. Welsh physio Sean Connelly has been invited to Los Angeles less than a week after Bale’s move to the United States. “They have a great relationship and they’ve both been reaching out to make sure the communication is good and what I’m doing is the right thing and not what I shouldn’t be doing,” Bale said.

“FAW has always done what’s best for me and what I need, so I guess it’s a good thing they already have a great relationship.”

Wales are bottom of Nations League Group 4 and need to beat Poland to stay in the top tier. The obvious caveat to their stance is that they were playing with a hand tied behind their backs in June, as what turned out to be a historic World Cup playoff win over Ukraine naturally took the not. That Wales were so disappointed with a slim defeat in Brussels shows the confidence in the side.

“We play against big teams every week now and we always compete with them,” says Bale. “We are still in the games and this can only be a testament to us. We’re definitely on the right trajectory, we’re definitely improving and that’s the direction we want to keep going.


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