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Thursday, August 05, 2021

Euro 2020: Gareth Bale says Wales embracing underdog tag against Denmark

Wales finished runner-up in Group A behind Italy to reach the knockout stages for a second successive Euros, having soared to the semi-finals in 2016.

By: Reuters |
Updated: June 26, 2021 5:52:56 pm
Wales' Gareth Bale celebrates with his teammate Daniel James. (Reuters)

Wales captain Gareth Bale said on Friday it will embrace its own underdog status against Denmark, the neutrals’ favourites in the last 16 of the European Championship, adding it will not underestimate Denmark’s quality.

Wales finished runner-up in Group A behind Italy to reach the knockout stages for a second successive Euros, having soared to the semi-finals in 2016.

Denmark stormed into the last 16 with a 4-1 win over Russia in its final group game – days after Christian Eriksen’s collapse due to a cardiac arrest — and will be playing in Amsterdam where it expects a Danish contingent to spur them on.

“We’re always the underdog, we’re used to that tag,” Bale told reporters ahead of Saturday’s match. “But it doesn’t make a difference to us. That’s normal anyway.

“We understand the situation that happened with them and we’ve obviously sent all our best wishes to Christian Eriksen. Come game day tomorrow… hopefully, we can put a great performance in and get the job done.”

Wales boss Robert Page echoed the sentiment, saying that it needs to try to ignore the emotion attached to the game and added it was prepared for a “tough challenge” having seen Denmark nearly get a result against group toppers Belgium.

“We watched their performance against a very, very good Belgium outfit and (they) more than held their own (in a 2-1 loss),” Page said.

“They haven’t fluked their way here, they’ve earned the right to be here. We’re up against a very good outfit.”

Page confirmed everyone in the squad was fit and available for selection except defender Ethan Ampadu, who is suspended after his red card in Wales’ 1-0 defeat by Italy on Sunday.

Having rested key players against Italy due to the risk of yellow card suspensions, Page said it would now throw caution to the wind.

“The gloves are off now, we’re in the knockout stages. There’s no managing bookings,” he said, adding that he had also asked players to practice penalties in the event of a shootout, including the walk-up from the half-line.

“We always practice them… Come the situation tomorrow, if penalties are required, I’m sure all the boys will be willing to step up for our country,” Bale added.

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