WALES – MATCH REPORT VS FINLAND 04/09/2020

Wales travelled to Finland looking to stretch their impressive unbeaten run to seven games. Both sides were without key players for this opening game of the Nations League and with the awkward timing of the fixture, neither set of players were at full match fitness. As a whole the game reflected the condition of the players, it was void of any real quality and excitement and Kieffer Moore’s 80th minute winner was the only shot on target of the match. 

Finland played in a 3-5-2, but very much defended in a 5-3-2 shape, a difficult shape to break down with men behind the ball. Wales started the game the better, Moore had a goal ruled out from a Dan James cross early on, Bale had a shot flash wide, but after this the game turned into a bit of a stalemate. The midfields in particular cancelling each other out. Wales played a 4-2-3-1 and neither the two-man pivot nor the full backs showed much intent to get forward. 

Finland saw more of the ball in the second half, but the game had 0-0 written all over it. This was before Dan James and Kieffer Moore linked up again for the winner in the 80th minute, getting Wales off to a great start in their Nations League campaign. 

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Ethan Ampadu 

Chelsea Will Overlook Ethan Ampadu at Their Own Peril in Defensive Shake-Up
  • Nationality: Welsh
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 14/09/2000
  • Current club: Sheffield United, on loan from Chelsea
  • Career: Exeter, Chelsea, RB Leipzig (L), Sheffield United (L)
  • Position: Centre Back or Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Ethan Ampadu played the full 90 minutes as the left-sided centre back for Wales in the match against Finland and was the standout performer at the back. Ampadu looked easily the more dynamic of the centre back partnership. In possession Ampadu was tidy, but you could see he wanted to make something happen for Wales, when on the ball his head was always up looking for a pass that could break down the lines. Ampadu completed 72/74 passes in the match and the only two that he misplaced were attempts at extravagant, long passes trying to move the ball forward and into dangerous areas. Ampadu is very much capable of these sorts of passes and he completed a brilliant long ball to Moore with his left foot whilst under pressure from a Finnish press in the first half. He also completed two progressive runs, where he drove into the midfield and moved the ball forward. 

Out of possession Ampadu’s reading of the game was superb. On multiple occasions he got himself in positions to cover his partner Lockyer and deal with Finland’s attacks. He found himself positioned correctly to make 3 clearances in the box and he also dealt with Teemu Pukki very well. He moved up and challenged Pukki when he dropped deep, he also tracked Pukki’s runs perfectly in behind, keeping him quiet all night. 

The main concern for Ampadu’s game is that he is so eager to utilise his talent, and make something happen, that he can on occasions lose concentration or take the difficult option when the easy option was the right call. This is testament to his ability, and he will only get better with this as he gets more games under his belt. 

Rating – A2

Ampadu really has the potential to become a key player in the Premier League. A loan to Sheffield United is a great next step for him, before making the next step as a regular in Chelsea’s first team. He is already a key player and leader for Ryan Giggs and the Wales national team. 

Dylan Levitt

  • Nationality: Welsh
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 17/11/2000
  • Current club: Charlton Athletic, on loan from Manchester United
  • Career: Manchester United, Charlton Athletic (L)
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Dylan Levitt was a somewhat surprise starter for Wales, and he divided opinion before the game as he had only played one senior game in his career previously, a Europa League tie for Manchester United against Astana.

Levitt played on the right side of the two-man pivot. He rarely strayed forward and put in a measured and steady performance on his Wales debut. Levitt and Morrell formed a solid block in front of the Welsh defence and made it difficult for Finland to break them down and get at the defence. Wales seemed to adopt a man for man approach in midfield, the attacking midfielder Johnny Williams tracked the defensive midfielder of Finland, often dropping deeper into a flat three-man midfield alongside Levitt and Morrell. Levitt therefore came up against the left sided centre mid of Finland and he put in a solid shift. He didn’t look out of place, put it that way. He won 50% of his duels, made four recoveries and five interceptions, forming good protection for the back line. 

Levitt dropped deep and pulled to the right to get on the ball. He looked comfortable in possession and his short passing was good and crisp, often looking inside to find Morrell or Williams. He looked like the ball player of the two in the midfield pivot. He largely kept it simple but on occasions attempted to be more extravagant with his passing, attempting seven long passes and completing four of them, but largely it was a safe performance for Levitt. 

Levitt did understandably look nervous. He gave the impression that he played well within himself, a lack of first team exposure could be the reason for this. With a solid performance under his belt, hopefully he can start to come out of his shell and dominate games from deep, showcasing more of his ability. 

Rating – B1

Looks to have the tools to perform at this level but needs more senior game time to start unlocking his potential. A loan spell in a lower league could be a good option for him next season. 

Joe Morrell 

Joe Morrell and Aaron Lewis return to Lincoln contention | Bailiwick Express
  • Nationality: Welsh
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 03/01/1997
  • Current club: Bristol City
  • Career: Bristol City, Cheltenham Town (L), Lincoln City (L)
  • Position: Centre Mid 
  • Preferred foot: Right

Joe Morrell played on the left side of the Welsh pivot, alongside Dylan Levitt. Morrell was therefore the more experienced head in the centre, despite only making his 5th appearance for his country. Morrell has been on loan in League One for Lincoln City but has his eyes on making the step up to the Championship for his parent club, Bristol City. 

Like Levitt, Morrell had a solid game for Wales. He patrolled the defence well, adopting the man for man approach and dealing well with the right sided Finnish central midfielder. He completed 5 interceptions and provided good cover for the defence. Morrell also displayed his leadership qualities as he offered support and marshalled Levitt well throughout. 

Morrell was largely subdued in possession though. He completed 44 passes but most of them were back and side wards and rarely looked for a killer pass forward. What he did though on occasions was drive the ball forward, attempting five dribbles and progressive runs. He looked good when doing so, he had a turn of pace and power when opening his legs and looking to break the lines, and against a compact team like Finland, this was what was required on occasions. 

Rating – A2

Looks to have the basics needed to establish himself as a regular in the Welsh squad and certainly to move out of League One, possibly making an impact in the Bristol City squad next season. 

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