There’s more to Wales than Bale
The constant jibes about Wales being Bales and so forth are getting a bit tired now. Granted, they would not be the same team without the Real Madrid man, but take the best player out of any team and they are instantly weakened. Aaron Ramsey is the other big name in the side but it is the unit that makes Chris Coleman’s men such a force in Europe.
Their shape is excellent and the former Fulham skipper has instilled an incredible amount of discipline into this group of players, both offensively and especially defensively. They didn't pull up any trees here but they never looked threatened. Their moto of ‘Together. Stronger’ is all too apt. They moved above England in the world rankings earlier in the week and they could cause serious problems in France, when they eventually qualify.
Ashley Williams is just as important as Bale
The Swansea skipper is the only recognised central defender in the Wales setup and he marshals the defence expertly. He is the lynchpin of the back three and his commanding display here was further evidence of why Wales have conceded just two goals in this qualifying campaign.
The Welsh gameplan is to keep it tight and then use the pace and guile of Bale and Ramsey, and without that base provided by Williams and co they would be nowhere near as effective. Williams’ consistent displays leave you wondering why Arsenal didn’t take a punt on him a couple of summers ago.
Wales need to learn how not to be the underdog
For so long they have been the weaker side in most of their matches but now Wales have established themselves at international level their card is marked. Israel came to defend, much like the Welsh on their travels, and asked the hosts to break them down. It was something they struggled to do.
There was slick passing in the first half but no real penetration and the home side ran out of steam at the end of the opening period. Simon Church had a goal chalked off late on but they didn't create too much. Coleman will want to ensure his players are prepared for games where they have to take the initiative. They can’t just rely on hitting teams on the counter; patience is key.
Wales supporters have a fine repertoire of songs
The atmosphere was electric at the start of the game. Thousands greeted the players off the coach in Cardiff for a game they could have sold out twice over at least. A feisty performance of the national anthem was followed up with a barrage of excellent renditions from the Welsh faithful.
Particular highlights include an impromptu performance of Kerncraft 400’s 1999 hit Zombie Nation and a rowdy recital of Salt n Pepa’s Push It. At times you could feel the stadium rocking and the Welsh fans will be a fine addition to a major tournament in France this summer.
Tal Ben Haim lives! And is actually OK
The Premier League journeyman captained his nation and shocked everyone by apparently only being 33. He was pretty solid at the heart of the Israel defence that frustrated the Welsh throughout the game. They gave away a couple of chances but the hosts could not capitalise.
Ben Haim had a spell on loan at Sunderland back in 2009 and in all honesty, on this performance he would probably add some sturdiness to the current excuse of a back line at the Stadium of Light. Tal Ben Haim II joined the action in the second period, proving, as we suspected, that Tal Ben Haim is royalty.