The Euros are just days away, but which team should Wales caretaker boss Rob Page pick for Saturday’s Group A opener with Switzerland in Baku?
Should he stick with five at the back, where does Kieffer Moore fit in, what about the Connor Roberts versus Neco Williams debate at full-back?
And who should play in goal?
Our writers pick the Wales XI they’d like to see kick off the tournament against the Swiss…
Paul Abbandonato – Neco, Hennessey and Kieffer must play
I really don’t know what more Kieffer Moore could have done to start the Euros for Wales, although it looks like Rob Page will omit him in favour of a five at the back and false nine approach.
The front four picks itself for me – Moore, Gareth Bale and Dan James supplemented by mercurial playmaker Aaron Ramsey.
Joe Allen has been part of a struggling Stoke team for the last few years and may prove off the pace at Euros level, but he has plenty of Wales credit in the bank and should naturally start. He’s a proven tournament performer.
Ethan Ampadu, Joe Morrell or Dylan Levitt next to him? Probably Ampadu.
Most of the defence picks itself, although there is an argument for starting Ben Cabango ahead of Chris Mepham. Probably not, though.
The two issues are goalkeeper and right-back.
Danny Ward was brilliant against France and has seized his recent chance, but Wayne Hennessey has never let Wales down and his vast experience accrued over 96 caps will be vital for a young-looking defence when the heat is on during the tournament.
Connor Roberts has done nothing wrong for Wales, but young Liverpool ace Neco Williams is on another level and simply cannot be overlooked.
Neco directly influences matches, offensively and defensively, his energy levels are as high as Roberts’ and he could be one of the big sensations at these Euros with his swashbuckling forays up and down the right flank.
Abbo’s team: Hennessy; N Williams, Mepham, Rodon, Davies; Ampadu, Allen, Ramsey; Bale, Moore, James.
Mathew Davies – Kieffer gives Wales structure and Connor has to start
What did we learn from Wales’ two friendly matches against France and Albania this week? It’s difficult to ascertain, especially with the French game ruined as contest after Neco Williams’ red card.
It is extremely difficult to second guess Page at the moment, such has been his tactical flexibility, which can be seen as both a positive and negative. We’ve seen Wales employ the 3-4-3 system in both friendlies but when they switched to 4-2-3-1 with Kieffer Moore in the mix they immediately looked more comfortable.
The fact Page started both games with a three-at-the-back system hints that that is the way he’ll set up his team against Switzerland.
However, I would go with the formation that gets the best out of the players and which sees individuals in their natural positions.
Danny Ward should start in goal – although Wayne Hennessey has never let anyone down. The back four would be Connor Roberts (or Neco Williams, it’s a toss-up decision), with the centre-backs being Joe Rodon and Chris Mepham, Page’s first-choice pairing. Ben Davies in at left-back completes the defensive line.
The midfield anchor duo should be Joe Allen and Ethan Ampadu. The Chelsea youngster started against Albania on the right of a back three. He is, in my opinion, far more effective in the centre of the park. Allen’s inclusion is self-explanatory, but Joe Morrell has done well in recent games.
How should Wales line up against Switzerland? Let us know in the comments section below
The attacking three of Daniel James, Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale is just delicious. Ramsey played in a false nine role against the eastern Europeans and it worked to a certain extent but in a No.10 position he is the most effective player he can be. With Bale and James on the flanks, that is an attacking threat to savour.
Moore at centre-forward gives Wales structure, an out ball when they want to go long and someone who can hold up play to take the pressure off tired legs. As he’s proved for Cardiff City, he’s a menace in both boxes. My only reservations over him will be European referees penalising him for aerial challenges. But, in the main, Wales look a better side when Moore is selected.
Mat’s team: Ward; Roberts, Mepham, Rodon, Davies; Ampadu, Allen; James, Ramsey, Bale; Moore.
Tom Coleman – Aaron Ramsey not a nailed-on starter
Three at the back has certainly been the preferred system at the moment, but given that the France game was seen as very much a dress rehearsal for the Swiss, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Page drop to the 4-3-3 system that we saw in Nice.
OK, we didn’t really get to see it properly due to Neco Williams’ red card, but Page might well have seen enough to make up his mind on it.
At the back, the team picks itself.
As mentioned, Wayne Hennessey hasn’t ever let his country down, but Danny Ward looks to be the first choice under Page and, after his superb showing against France, I don’t expect that to change.
I think the back four will be largely the same, with Ben Davies coming in for Chris Gunter, with a more advanced Neco Williams dropping back into a makeshift back five if needed.
Before his red card, he was superb in man-marking Paul Pogba, so the Liverpool man could well have similar role to play here.
Joe Allen should start in the centre of midfield and, for me, will likely be partnered by Joe Morrell.
If he’s fully fit and firing, Ethan Ampadu would be my choice, but he looked rusty against the Albanians and might just start from the bench.
Kieffer Moore too will likely remain an impact player, given that Page would likely need to alter the system we saw in Nice in order to fully accommodate him, but I think his encouraging cameo against Albania will have done his chances of a start no harm at all.
Finally, and I never thought I’d ever say this, but for me the biggest call of the lot is Aaron Ramsey.
I don’t actually think he’s as nailed on a starter as some might think.
He was deployed as a false nine against Albania, a role he’s played on occasion for Juventus, but for me it didn’t really work. I still think his best position is at number 10, but Wales haven’t played with one for a long time – although admittedly Ramsey’s long absence from the Wales squad has perhaps had a lot to do that.
On top of that, Wales have found a way to win without him. In the last 10 games Ramsey has missed, Wales have won seven of them.
Does he play central midfield? Perhaps, but again, it’s not really his best position. You want a player like Ramsey in and around the final third.
If he starts against the Swiss, Page will likely have to reconsider both his 4-3-3 and 3-4-3 systems, neither of which really accommodate a traditional number 10.
For me, on the eve of a tournament, that would be a bit of a gamble.
Tom’s team: Ward; Roberts, Mepham, Rodon, Davies; Allen, Morrell, Williams; Bale, Wilson, James