When Wales achieved qualification for Euro 2016, it was the greatest moment the national football team had produced for over half a century, and a fitting end to a qualifying campaign started under the leadership of the late Gary Speed. Now, as they prepare for their quarter final against the winner of Belgium v Hungary, following their 1-0 victory over Northern Ireland, it would not be surprising to see them achieve further success.
Given the Welsh success in the group stages, taking six points from nine and only losing to England through an injury time Daniel Sturridge winner, they have no reason to fear going in to the latter stages of the tournament. Furthermore, the spine of the team has quality enough to cause even the best teams in Europe to be wary; Wayne Hennessey has dominated in goal, whilst Ashley Williams is an organised, no-nonsense defender who will give the tournament’s best strikers a tough battle. Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey have controlled the Welsh midfield, whilst Gareth Bale is a world-class attacker, giving his team an outlet and scaring the opposition defenders in the process.
Looking ahead towards the quarter finals, Wales have reasons to be confident. The draw will either pit them against Hungary, who have exceeded expectations in reaching the knockout stage, and lack the quality throughout their side to deal with the Welsh class (particularly that of Ramsey and Bale), or Belgium, who failed to score in 180 minutes against Chris Coleman’s side in qualifying. Either way, Wales can afford to be optimistic about their chances.
The quarter final offers no real reason for Wales to worry, regardless of who they come up against. A semi final against either Portugal or Poland could be a real possibility, and who knows what could happen if that situation arises? One thing is for sure, though; Gary Speed would be proud.