SWANNY’S WORLD OF SPORT: Wales are no world-beaters, Irish teams have been lucky

Aaron Ramsey.

Aaron Ramsey.

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Topping a poor Euros qualification group has convinced Welsh fans they are world beaters again. They’re not. They lost to England.

Understandably Slovakia didn’t rate Wales and so attacked and left space to exploit. Russia had to attack Wales to give themselves a chance to reach the last 16, again leaving space for Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey to exploit.

Conor Washington.

Conor Washington.

All three teams in the group played scared football against England and relied on crowded penalty areas to frustrate.

England should still have done better, but circumstances and an ordinary reputation have aided Wales so far.

The new-style Euros is no fun. There were too many teams to start with and there are too many teams in the first round of knockout matches.

Under the old format England’s dull clash with Slovakia would never have happened as both teams would have needed to win to get through.
And, happy as I am to see Northern Ireland and their ex-Posh striker Conor Washington going well, did they really do enough to earn a last-16 place? They finished third in their group, four points behind the top two after three matches.

The Republic of Ireland have been equally fortunate, beating an Italian reserve side with a late goal to sneak through another back door.

Having too many teams has helped to dilute the quality.