Euro 2016: How much did Wales miss Aaron Ramsey in the semifinal against Portugal?
When the news broke out that Aaron Ramsey would miss the game against Portugal, Chris Coleman might have already conceded defeat to the Portuguese in his mind. Had he been fit against the Portuguese, they would have perhaps not steamrolled Wales the way they did in the first semifinal of the UEFA Euro 2016. The Welsh dragons lost their bite and productivity in midfield without the Arsenal man and hence Portugal were allowed to dominate the game.
This entire Euro 2016, much of the talk had been about Gareth Bale’s performances and Wales’ innovative 3-5-2 formation. What people overlooked were the efforts of Aaron Ramsey as their midfield engine. The vital cog in the Wales system, Ramsey had exerted his influence all through the competition.
Ask the Belgians who bossed the game in the quarter final and I’m sure Radja Nainggolan and co. would have pointed to Aaron Ramsey. The dynamic Ramsey was sorely missed against Portugal and it allowed the Iberian outfit to boss the midfield. His work ethic, chance creation and distribution were second to none in the Welsh midfield.
Here is a comparison of the Welsh midfielders at Euro 2016.
Ramsey made the highest number of successful tackles and mind you, he played one lesser game than his compatriots. He leads with highest chances created eclipsing Joe Allen and Joe Ledley and this clearly shows how much Wales missed his creativity against Portugal.
Apart from 4 assists and 1 goal to his name, Ramsey made 11 key passes all tournament while Allen made 4 and Ledley made only 2. Much of Wales’ industry from midfield came from Ramsey and he provided most of the service to Gareth Bale who was allowed to roam free ahead of him.
Defensively, he was missed as well as he won 42% of all his duels in the tournament. His defensive performances have been nothing short of inspiring, and many were surprised with the effort he put in for Wales at Euro 2016.
Not many people except Arsenal fans rate Aaron Ramsey highly but it was certain at these Euros that he cemented his place as one of the best midfielders in the tournament.
Solely relying on Gareth Bale as an outlet against Portugal, the Welsh were nullified by the Portuguese who did a fine job eradicating any threat from Bale who didn’t have Ramsey’s support. Wales became too one-dimensional and all the sting in their attack was removed by simply marking the Real Madrid forward.
Even in the dying minutes of the game Wales had no other option other than Bale to turn to. If Ramsey was on the pitch last night the story would have been much more different.
Here is a comparison of Euro 2016’s top 5 midfielders, do note that I have picked only midfielders who scored and also since the Italian midfield was rotated a lot it was difficult to identify a single player.
The stats don’t lie Ramsey has created the most number of chances from midfield as compared to the other midfielders at Euro 2016. He also has the highest assists far greater than his competition. He has also made 11 key passes tied with Paul Pogba of France.
He comes second with 235 passes, second to Frenchman Pogba. While in the defensive department he made 7 successful tackles, one lesser than Pogba and is tied with Radja Nainngolan with 1 block a piece(not shown) while the others have none. Of course, Pogba has played one more game than Ramsey otherwise the Welshman would lead in all stats.
Ramsey has easily been one of the best midfielders attacking wise and defensively at Euro 2016 and it is a shame that he could not be part of his country’s most important game in the semifinal against Portugal.
After such an excellent Euro 2016, Ramsey will surely pick up from where he left off and develop from strength to strength at Arsenal come next season. It is certain that Ramsey could go on to become one of the greatest midfielders of his generation.
Portugal got lucky because Ramsey didn’t play and had he been there on the pitch fighting for every ball in the way he has all competition, perhaps the dragons could have gotten through to the final.