“It’s scary, it’s tense, it’s loads of pressure – and it’s fantastic,” manager Chris Coleman told EURO2016.com as he described the emotion of taking Wales to the UEFA EURO 2016 semi-finals.
“I’m looking forward to it because I believe in the players – I believe in the team,” the history-making coach said as he looked forward to Wednesday’s Lyon showdown with Portugal. “I know they’re good, and I just want them to go and show again how good they are, and we’ll see what comes out at the end of the evening.”
Real Madrid duo Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo will be on opposite sides at the Stade de Lyon, but Coleman was keen to stress that this should be no distraction for his star winger. “He’ll be doing what he’s always done for us,” Chris Coleman said of Bale. “He has got huge respect from the players, because we know he’s a great player – it’s obvious. The reason he’s so respected by all of us is because he’s all about the team. He won’t play any differently.”
Yellow cards for midfielder Aaron Ramsey and defender Ben Davies in Friday’s 3-1 quarter-final success over Belgium have ruled the pair out of the semi-final. They will be missed, yet Coleman insisted other squad members could fill the gaps. “That’s why the squad’s there,” the 46-year-old said. “They work hard. They’ve been just as much of a part of it as anybody.
“Sometimes they can play a bigger part because they’ve got to stay positive and, you know, if they’re negative it can rub off on the group. But they haven’t. Our boys have been positive and they’ve been right in the heart of it. With all the celebrations, all the boys who haven’t been on the pitch have joined in and it’s been genuine celebration. That adds to the whole mentality and the ambience of the group.”
With Wales one game away from the final, Welsh supporters are pinching themselves to confirm it is not all a dream. According to Coleman, musing too much over how well things had gone would not help his team right now. “If we stop and think too much about what we’ve done up to this point – because of the emotion involved – then you lose sight of where you’re trying to get to,” he said. “I know from experience, that’s dangerous.”
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