Our last blog post finished with the words, “Wales represent the best best chance of seeing 1-11 on the pitch together in the latter stages”, but we’ll be honest and say that it was something expressed more in hope than expectation. Their number 8, Andy King, had only featured in the final group game against Russia before last weekend’s quarter-final against Belgium, with Joe Ledley (16) clearly ahead of him in the depth chart.
That remained the case for the last-eight tie last Friday evening, but otherwise the rest of the line-up had numbers between 1 and 11 (ignore the placing of wing-backs Chris Gunter and Neil Taylor, they’re the wrong way round):
Look, though, at the subs – with Wales having gone 2-1 ahead, King was brought on for Ledley and, gloriously, the 11 players on the pitch were those wearing the 11 lowest numbers. The numbering was that of a ‘German’ 3-5-2, with 10 (Aaron Ramsey) in midfield and 11 (Gareth Bale) up front.
The perfection only lasted two minutes as Sam Vokes came on for Hal Robson-Kanu, but Chris Coleman’s judgment couldn’t really be questioned as Vokes scored the clinching third goal. Ramsey’s yellow card means that he is suspended for the semi-final against Portugal, but fingers crossed for 1-11 again in the final.
The answer to the question you didn’t ask – the last team before Wales to field 1-11 at the European Championship was the Republic of Ireland, who started their first and third games at Euro 2012 in that fashion. Incidentally, they had done the same at Euro 88.