Robbie Savage blasts Boris Johnson over embarrassing Euro 2020 Wales gaffe

Boris Johnson’s gaffe when he wished England, Scotland “and, er, all the home nations who may be playing” at the Euros will generate even more fire in the dragon’s belly.

The word you were looking for, Prime Minister, is Wales. Little old Wales – you know, the country who reached the semi-finals of the last Euros in 2016, when England got knocked out by Iceland and Scotland weren’t even there.

Does that ring any bells?

As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, he should not make the Welsh feel like second-class citizens or forget them like a wedding anniversary.

Manager Rob Page and the players are aware of Mr Johnson’s disappointing answer at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Boris Johnson failed to specifically wish Wales good luck at the Euros
Boris Johnson failed to specifically wish Wales good luck at the Euros

As a nation we would love it, absolutely love it, if Wales went on another run at this tournament.

And in a way, it might help Page’s team if people underestimate them and they fly under the radar again.

Five years ago, nobody gave Wales a chance of reaching the last four – and look what happened.

In truth, the cards are stacked against them this time. Where England are playing all their group matches at Wembley, and Scotland will begin their campaign at Hampden, Wales have been required to travel 3,000 miles to Baku, on the far side of Europe.

I know these are unprecedented times, but that strikes me as unfair.

When Dublin pulled out of staging group matches because of the Covid-19 crisis, it would have been nice if Cardiff had taken a place on the roster.

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If it’s OK for games to be played in London and Glasgow with reduced capacities, why not the Welsh capital?

Look, it’s water under the bridge now. And in a desperately tough group, Wales’ opening match against Switzerland in Baku this weekend will be the key.

With four of the third-placed teams advancing from the group stage, this is their best chance of putting three points on the board.

Wales memorably made it to the semi-finals in 2016
Wales memorably made it to the semi-finals in 2016

In our playing days, Page was my room-mate on international trips. I believe we are the only two players to represent Wales at every level from Under-15 upwards, if you include the Under-18 schoolboy age group for sixth formers.

He is a good man, a safe pair of hands, and the spirit of togetherness he has forged among the squad reminds me of the atmosphere Chris Coleman created in the camp at Euro 2016.

It also helps that Gareth Bale, a proven world-class act, will be leading the side out here in Azerbaijan.

We only saw glimpses of Bale’s enduring magic on his return to Tottenham last season, and he does not need to wear the captain’s armband to demonstrate leadership on the pitch.

It was Bale’s dipping free-kick against Slovakia five years ago that got the party started for Wales in France, in a match they went on to win 2-1.

And I will be interested to see how Page sets up his team to get the best out of Bale against the Swiss.

My preference would be a 4-2-3-1 shape with Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Dan James playing behind Kieffer Moore, which could cause Switzerland a host of problems.

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The likes of Gareth Bale will be hoping to shine once more this time around
The likes of Gareth Bale will be hoping to shine once more this time around

But it’s vital for Wales to get something from their opener, because 35,000 Turkish supporters are expected to flood across the border into Azerbaijan for their Group A clash next Wednesday – which will feel more like Istanbul than Baku.

And apart from Germany, France and Portugal all in the same group, I don’t think there’s a tougher set of fixtures than the hand Page has been dealt: Switzerland, Turkey and Italy.

Good luck to Wales – or the other home nation, as Boris Johnson calls them.



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