Saturday 21 September 2019

Wales victory would be music to my ears

Weird Wide World of Sport

The loss of Aaron Ramsey for the semi-final through suspension is a big blow for Wales
The loss of Aaron Ramsey for the semi-final through suspension is a big blow for Wales

Dave Devereux

There are certain noises that fill me with a cocktail of anger, frustration and downright dread.

Like hearing the refuse collection lorry screech to a halt at the top of the drive and having to run like a crazed Basil Fawlty dragging a big blue bin behind me, only to see it take off into the distance, leaving a trail of dust and an aroma of soiled nappies and rotten leftovers in its wake.

Other sounds just bring a sense of bewilderment and a roll of the eyes to the heavens - like listening to commentator Clive Tyldesley build England up and belittle the opposition, only to witness the inevitable fall of the over-hyped and overpaid 'Rule Britannia' brigade.

Then there's the almost x-rated, incessant grunting at Wimbledon that would have you reaching for the mute button quicker than a John Isner serve.

There are some sounds, on the other hand, that are just good for the soul and make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

Colourful Welsh fans belting out 'Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau' with great gusto before, after and while their team is in the heat of battle is a case in point.

Ireland's own adventure was certainly fun while it lasted, but Wales have brought something really special to the party and are now just 90 minutes away from the unimaginable --a place in the final of the European Championship.

Chris Coleman's side have been a real breath of fresh air for the tournament, particularlty their thrilling win against Belgium, which was all the more praiseworthy considering the style in which they did it, with real attacking flair.

Portugal, however, have been the polar opposite. The 3-3 draw with Hungary aside, Ronaldo individually and Portugal as a whole, have been pretty average and have reached the semi-final with a stutter rather than a swagger.

Renato Sanches and the commanding Pepe were possibly the only two players to come out of the penalty shoo-out win over Poland with any great credit.

However, they've still managed to make it to the final four without winning a game in regulation time, and have been solid, if unspectacular, as a unit, and you get the feeling that their preening number seven is ready to burst into life.

I really hope I'm wrong, but I think the loss of Aaron Ramsey, who has been exceptional throughout the tournament, through suspension might just swing the tie in Portugal's favour.

The other semi-final is sure to be an intriguing, close contest.

France, when they click into gear, look a potent attacking force but breaking down the Germans will be far tougher than anything they've had to unlock to date.

Germany's penalty shoot-out win over Italy was more hit and miss than a game of blindfolded table tennis, but the Germans always seem to find a way when it comes to spot-kicks.

The world champions don't look to have as many options going forward as France, with Griezmann, Giroud and Payet all vying for the Golden Boot, but the French defence can be as brittle as mussel shells on a beach under the weight of a size 12 hobnail boot.

Obviously you wouldn't dismiss the Germans lightly and they're a fair few rungs further up the ladder than any team France have faced so far, but I think a moment of magic from Payet or Griezmann could win it for the Gallic boys.

So there you have it - France to meet Portugal in the final and carve out a 2-0 victory that would bring a bit of light to a country that's been enveloped in darkness in recent times.

Now that I've nailed my colours to the mast, a Wales versus Germany decider is surely a certainty.

I definitely will be cheering on Wales from afar as they bid to attain the impossible dream and would like nothing more than to hear their anthem fill the Parisian air in the Stade de France next Sunday.

Now excuse me while I make a mad dash. I think I hear the bloody bin lorry rumbling outside.

Wexford People