Aaron "Rambo" Ramsey's roaming role for Wales covers up some of the stick he gets at Arsenal

Wales midfielder will be key as they take on Belgium

BY Raf Diallo 15:43 Friday 1 July 2016, 15:43 1 Jul 2016

Wales's Aaron Ramsey celebrates winning the Euro 2016 round of 16 soccer match between Wales and Northern Ireland, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Saturday, June 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Box-to-box midfielders can be an important part of a team but their driving runs from front to back can be a tactical conundrum.

Discipline is key especially defensively and that is something you often hear pundits criticise Aaron Ramsey about when he is in Arsenal colours.

While he is among the most prolific tacklers in the Premier League, the 25-year-old also has no fear of having regular pops at goal.

But tackling is only one part of the defensive art and being in a position to close down spaces and curtailing forward runs is a criticism Ramsey has faced.

But as Wales come within 90 minutes of a historic Euro 2016 semi-final place if they can overturn Belgium, Ramsey isn't playing as a box-to-box midfielder but as a roaming playmaker, positioning himself closely to Gareth Bale who has also had a free role.

An all action display against Russia from Rambo...I mean Ramsey

Thanks to Chris Coleman's 3-5-2 shape, Bale can have a free role but Ramsey can also roam at will because he has the security of an impressive Joe Allen and Joe Ledley to sit deeper in front of the back-three and provide stability at the base. No wonder, you can see him drifting wide and centrally in search of pockets of weakness, giving Wales forward flexibility.

Consequently, Ramsey has been in a position to do damage in a way that doesn't backfire on his own team to the extent it can in some games at club level - and he is not alone in this regard among Arsenal's midfielders with the Gunners defence often exposed. Unlike at Arsenal where the 4-2-3-1 means he can often be one of the two nominally sitting in front of the back-four despite his own willingness to get forward, at least there is more protection behind him this time.

Thus far, he has two assists already at Euro 2016 and played the key pass against Northern Ireland that put Bale into a position to whip in a cross for Gareth McAuley's own goal. 

Plus he managed the opening goal against Russia in the famous final group game with a good run and albeit in an offside position managed a Frank Lampard-esque run into the box against Northern Ireland for a disallowed goal. 

Symbolically he has been wearing the No 10 shirt which at least implies a role as an advanced playmaker even if his style is more Rambo (his nickname) than Picasso.

Belgium will know to keep an eye on him as well as Bale.


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