Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale, the best counter-attacking forwards in Europe, according to their Wales manager, Rob Page
Credit: Marco Iacobucci/PA
Rob Page has said his Wales forwards are the “best in Europe” on the counter-attack as he warned Denmark that his players will thrive on their underdog status this weekend.
Wales continue their European Championship adventure with Saturday’s round of 16 tie against a Denmark side who are seen as the neutrals’ favourites following the collapse of Christian Eriksen earlier in the tournament.
Page’s team will face another unfavourable atmosphere as Denmark fans have been told they can travel to the match in Amsterdam. Wales supporters, by contrast, will not be allowed to attend the fixture.
Denmark will be regarded as favourites following their impressive showings against Belgium and Russia in the group stages but Page is confident that his team will threaten in attack, where the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Daniel James have been dangerous so far in this competition.
“We are full of confidence,” said the Wales manager. “We know we can hurt teams. It is going to be an extremely tough game against Denmark, who are nothing short of impressive. They went toe-to-toe with Belgium for 90 minutes.
“But like I said to the players, they will have to show us respect. If I saw our team sheet as an opposing manager, I would be very respectful of what we have got on paper as well.”
Wales showed their attacking capabilities in their thrilling victory over Turkey in the group stages, and they defended resolutely against both Switzerland and Italy.
“We have shown our resilience,” said Page. “We have shown that we can be hard to break down. We are going to need that in abundance, but we know in transition we have got players on the pitch who are the best in Europe.”
Wales have grown used to punching above their weight in tournament football, having defied expectations to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and to finish second in their group this year.
“As the underdogs, we have always thrived on that,” said Page, who insisted no emotions over Eriksen will come into the match. “It is a shame our supporters can’t be there on Sunday. We are desperate for them to be a part of it.”
Eriksen has warned Ben Davies, his former Tottenham Hotspur team-mate, that Wales are in for a “tough one” this weekend, and Page said Denmark are a team that do “all aspects of the game really well”.
Wales will once again take strength from the presence of Bale and Ramsey in their attack. Both players excelled in their victory over Turkey, when Ramsey scored from a Bale pass, and they have so far remained fit despite patchy seasons at club level.
“I don’t think Aaron has played 90 minutes in two years and all of a sudden he has played close to 90 minutes [in the first two games],” said Page. “He played 90 minutes the other day [against Italy]. He looks to be getting stronger and stronger.
“I spoke to him a week before we joined up on camp and he has got a different, individual programme that we wanted to do for him. It has obviously worked. He is in a good place at the minute and long may it continue.”
The support for Denmark in Holland this weekend is likely to be enhanced by Eriksen’s history with Ajax, where he started his professional career.
“Seeing the Denmark fans being able to travel and the Wales ones aren’t is obviously not nice for us,” said attacking midfielder David Brooks. “Some of the ‘Red Wall’ made the seven-hour journey to Baku and we would like them here.
“But we want to make them proud back home and write our own history. Obviously the lads that were there last time [in 2016] have cemented their place in history by doing what they did.
“I do not think we are any different. There are a few lads who were there at Euro 2016 and now, but for the new lads we want to re-enact or re-create something like that and go in the history books ourselves.”
Brooks has yet to have a major impact on the tournament, appearing twice as a substitute, but the Bournemouth playmaker said he is prepared to step in when needed this weekend.
“It’s just unfortunate that the guy in my position [Bale] is playing for Real Madrid and is one of the best players in the world,” said Brooks. “You just have to be ready for any opportunity that comes your way. Be ready if called upon.”