by Lewis Ambrose
Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has praised Gareth Bale peaking ahead of Wales’ crucial European Championship qualifier against Belgium on Friday night.
With Belgium getting ready to visit Cardiff, Aaron Ramsey is getting ready for the biggest game of his international career to date.
It is, in fact, one of the biggest games the Welsh football team has played for generations.
They have only featured in one World Cup (1958) and one European Championship (1976) – where they didn’t even reach the final stages.
“It’s probably the biggest game we’ve played in for this group of players,” said Ramsey.
“We’re both top of the table at the moment so there’s a lot riding on this game.”
Impressive form in qualifying so far leaves Wales second to Belgium on goal difference, and two points clear of Israel in third place – which would win a place in the play-offs at the very least.
Five points ahead of Cyprus in fourth, Wales are halfway through the qualifying process and have given themselves a huge opportunity to at least play in a play-off ahead of the tournament.
“We’ve started off fantastically, so hopefully we can get another great result and that will put us in a really good position to qualify.”
Any hopes that Wales have will be on the shoulders of Messrs Ramsey and Bale.
“I’m looking forward to linking up with Gareth again,” Ramsey says.
“Our understanding is good, he’s a top-quality player and it’s always nice to play with team-mates of his calibre.”
The Arsenal star plays with players of that calibre every week, but he and Bale are the standout talents in this Welsh side.
Despite that, the team is stronger all round than it has been for a long time.
“As a squad, this group is probably the best we’ve had for many years, and the effort that the boys have been putting in during this qualifying campaign has been second to none.”
This is, in fact, the biggest game Wales have played in over 10 years. in 2002 a 1-0 win against Italy kept Euro 2004 hopes alive before Russia were victorious in a play-off against the Welsh.
“Obviously I wasn’t involved when Wales beat Italy under Mark Hughes in 2002, but it’s definitely the biggest game we’ve had as a nation since then – and hopefully we can come up with a similar result,” said Ramsey.
“We’ve had two good results against Belgium away from home in the last few years -now we have a chance to produce a big performance in Cardiff.”
A positive result against a Belgian side brimming with talent would leave Wales in a fantastic position.
This game really could be era-defining for Welsh football, and this young Welsh team.
Good luck, Aaron!