Joe Allen player watch as Wales fight back for draw with Switzerland


A return to the big stage for Joe Allen as the fit-again Stoke City midfielder ran out for Wales at the European Championships.

Allen was up against his old Stoke teammate Xherdan Shaqiri in what turned out to be a 1-1 draw in the heat of Baku.

The 31-year-old midfielder had expected to miss this tournament when he ruptured an Achilles tendon in March 2020 but the pandemic meant it was all postponed – and he even had time to recover from subsequent calf and hamstring injuries.

He made Rob Page’s starting XI, partnering Joe Morrell in central midfield in a 4-2-3-1 line up, protecting the back four while Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Daniel James were the three behind striker Kieffer Moore.

Robbie Savage, who was summarising for the BBC coverage, was quick to highlight the importance of Allen, particularly alongside the younger Luton man Morrell.

He said: “Robert Page said before the game, this is his preferred starting XI. So, there are no excuses. They have a good shape, they have pace in forward areas. It is a great opportunity for Morrell next to Joe Allen who is fantastic on the ball, will receive the ball in all kinds of positions and look to play forward. It is important if Allen can get on it, then get the ball into Ramsey as a ‘10’.”



The bet365 Stadium, home of Stoke City.

We want your views, Stoke City fans. You can become even more involved with our Stoke City Live coverage by signing up to unlock a host of add-on features – such as commenting and joining the discussion on all of our stories, plus taking part in special Q&As where you can correspond directly with our Stoke writer Peter Smith about the latest news and transfer talk coming out of the bet365 Stadium and elsewhere. Just click here to get started.

However, by midway through the half, Savage was concerned Wales were conceding too much possession.

He said: “It is 65 per cent possession for Switzerland. I think the key to that is Ward trying to pick Kieffer Moore out from goal kicks. Then the ball comes straight back. They have to try to get Allen and Morrell on the ball in the middle of the park and try to dictate the tempo of the game.”

That was a theme Savage returned to later in the half.

He said: “When Kieffer Moore is in the side there is a tendency to play long, therefore you are missing out the quality of Joe Allen in that ‘number six’ position and Ramsey as a ‘ten’.

“I just think they are missing out that midfield area and that is allowing Switzerland to have all the ball.”

Breel Embolo gave Switzerland the lead shortly after the break when he hammered in a header from an excellent Shaqiri corner.

Wales didn’t particularly look like responding but had a new spring in their step when Shaqiri was taken off – and Allen had a role in the equaliser.

What’s your verdict on Allen? Let us know in the comments section

He collected a short corner in the 74th minute and passed back to Joe Morrell to whip in for Moore.

“It’s a great routine,” said Savage. “Watch Kieffer Moore get a cross. It’s a wonderful header, eyes focused on the ball and he glances it past the goalkeeper. That’s why he’s in the side. Great delivery from Morrell.”

There were still nerves to come and Mario Gavranovic thought he had put Switzerland ahead in the 85th minute.

“Miles offside!” said Savage when it was ruled out for offside via VAR.

“There’s actually not much in that – but it doesn’t matter, it’s offside – and look at the celebrations from the Wales supporters.”

He added: “I think after being 1-0 down and not threatening the Switzerland goal at all, they got the equaliser and now it’s imperative they don’t lose it.

“Gavronovic has made an impact, great finish but ruled out, and it’s important that if Wales can’t go on and win the game, certainly don’t lose it.”


Video Loading

Video Unavailable

And he was gobsmacked when Allen was then tasked with marking Embolo at a late corner, with Danny Ward needing to make an excellent save.

“I’m not sure why Joe Allen is marking Embolo,” said Savage. “One of the smallest players on the pitch. It’s a wonderful save. Wales have got to sort that out.”

Wales and Allen – and sub keeper Adam Davies – now prepare to take on Turkey, with more supporters expected in the stands in Baku.

Mark Hughes, on punditry duty, said: “It’s a huge game for both countries on Wednesday given the results we’ve seen. With more fans in the stadium it’s going to be that little edge that players need.

“It’s ok playing in games of significance but you need that edge that a crowd will give you.”





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *