Giggs: Wales are the best team in the group
Ryan Giggs believes Wales are the best team in their Euro 2016 group and has urged the Dragons to end his own personal hurt by finally reaching a major tournament.
Chris Coleman’s men stand on the brink of making France next year after an unbeaten start to their campaign. They currently sit top of Group B on 14 points with four games remaining after a thrilling win over Belgium in Cardiff earlier this month.
And one man who would be thrilled to see them finally make it is the current assistant manager at Manchester United who came close himself on a couple of occasions to leading the Dragons to the biggest stages in the international game.
Giggs earned 64 caps for Wales and enjoyed a spectacular playing career at United too, but he never got to grace a World Cup or European Championship.
Now he wants to see that put right and believes the team spirit with the Welsh camp, something that might have been lacking back in his day, should see Coleman’s men over the line.
Even more that that he rates the quality of the side so highly that he believes they are a better team than group favourites Bosnia and Herzegovina and star-studded Belgium.
“I was impressed by the win over Belgium, but not surprised to be honest,” said Giggs.
“The form Wales have shown in the group doesn’t make it a surprise really. Everyone in Wales is excited and just hoping and willing the lads on that we will get to a major tournament. I’m fairly confident, but I don’t want to jinx it as there are four games to go. They’ve got two away and two home so they have still got a long way, but they are in a great position and for me they look the best team in the group.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on them, but to me they look like a real team now. They look like a club side really. There’s young lads who have come through, there is experience too. They’ve got a good manager and, as I say, they are for me the best team in the group and they look like they can beat anyone both home and away.
Giggs and his Welsh teammates came close to qualification on two occasions. Ahead of the World Cup in America in 1994 only a heart-breaking defeat in their last match against Romania did for them Then, after a great start in their Euro 2004 campaign under then-boss Mark Hughes, Giggs and his teammates lost out in a play-off to Russia.
But Cardiff-born Giggs does not see too much similarity between that campaign and this. He believes things are different this time around with Coleman able to call on more strength in depth these days than ever before and he is hoping Wales make it, not only for the sake of the nation, but also to ease some of his own personal disappointment.
“I had a great playing career, I can’t complain, but to be honest, I would have loved to have played at a World Cup or European Championship,” added Giggs, currently McDonald’s Head of Welsh Football.
“It’s not a regret as such, we simply were not good enough on any particular day before. I had chances, I can’t say I didn’t, against Romania and then the Russia play-off, but we didn’t quite make it. Hopefully the lads will do it this time and we can finally put right what happened back then. I really hope they do it.
“It’s different now. Back then if we were missing a couple of players out of the squad then we would really struggle. This team, as I say, it looks so much more like a club side.
"You’ve got 22 players and if one is not playing, the other comes in and does equally a good job. Of course, there’s the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, that’s different, but it really looks now like they are not fazed when they are missing a couple of players whereas before when that was the case we struggled.”
*Ryan Giggs was at Mumbles Rangers in Swansea to celebrate the McDonald’s BetterPlay grassroots football programme. For more information visit www.mcdonalds.co.uk/betterplay or follow @BetterPlayUK