Ryan Giggs backs Gareth Bale to rediscover form for crunch Wales game

Sam Dean
Gareth Bale looked a bit rusty in Wales' defeat to Croatia  - PA

Ryan Giggs has defended Gareth Bale’s form as he called on the Real Madrid forward to shrug off the close attentions of the Hungarian defence in Tuesday's Euro 2020 qualifying match.

Bale has come into this set of international fixtures amid swirling doubts over his future in Spain after losing his place in the Madrid team towards the end of the domestic season.

The 29-year-old has not scored since mid-March but Giggs will need him to be at his inspirational best in attack as Wales look to return to form following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Croatia.

The loss in Osijek has left Wales in third place in their qualifying group, behind Croatia and Hungary, Tuesday's opponents in Budapest.

Giggs said Bale’s lack of sharpness in Croatia was “understandable” given his lack of game-time in recent weeks. Saturday’s match was his first competitive appearance since the end of April.

“I was happy with Gareth’s performance in Croatia, he had a couple of chances and on another day they go in,” said Giggs. “It was his first game in six weeks, we had a great build-up in Portugal and a great week at Colliers Park [in Wrexham].

Bale ended the season out of favour at Real Madrid Credit: Getty images

“Gareth grew into the game and that might be because of not playing for six weeks, which is understandable. Hopefully he is saving it for Hungary.

“Any team that plays against a team with Gareth in it will mark up him as a danger man. A lot of teams will stop him any way they can, it is up to us and Gareth to find a way around that. He is used to that, both at club and international level.”

Giggs hopes the game will not be marred by any trouble with the Hungary supporters after they were found guilty of racist behaviour, vandalism and setting off fireworks against Slovakia in March.

Uefa ordered a partial stadium closure at the Groupama Arena in Budapest following those incidents, meaning that 3,000 of the stadium’s 22,000 seats will be left empty against Wales. The Hungarian Football Federation must also display an ‘Equal Game’ banner in the ground.

Giggs, who has in the past called for tougher punishments for racist behaviour, said: “There will be less fans in the stadium but I understand it is a very good atmosphere.

“I have talked before about sanctions on racism not being strong enough. They need to be stronger. But for me it is all about concentrating on the game. I have got enough to worry about with winning this game. We hope that all the fans behave as always in all the games as they should.”

Giggs may make a series of changes to his side following the defeat in Croatia, which took place in sweltering conditions. David Brooks, Wales' goal scorer, and Chelsea youngster Ethan Ampadu both impressed off the bench and could come into the team if they can convince Giggs that they are physically ready to start.

David Brooks could start after impressing off the bench against Croatia Credit: AP

“I realise after the impact they made, a lot of fans are asking why I didn’t start them,” said Giggs. “Ethan has not started a game for six months and Brooksy did not end the season with Bournemouth. He only trained for two days.

“You are already giving up two substitutions and you’re not being fair on the other players. That’s my job and it’s our job as staff to assess what is best.

“Brooksy’s ankle seems fine and Ethan was feeling his back a little bit, but I think that was more from a knock that he got. After the training session we will know a lot more.

“I thought a lot of the players did well [against Croatia] but we have to take the heat into consideration. Some of the players are short of minutes at the end of the season so maybe it is about freshening the side up a little bit, but also assessing how the recovery has gone.”

Probable teams

Hungary (4-2-3-1): Gulacsi (RB Leipzig); Lovrencsics (Ferencvaros), Barath (Sporting Kansas City), Orban (RB Leipzig), Korhut (Aris); Nagy (Bologna), Kleinheisler (Osijek); Dzsudzsak (Al-Ittihad Kalba SC), Szoboszlai (Red Bull Salzburg), Nemeth (Sporting Kansas City); Szalai (Hoffenheim)

Wales (4-2-3-1): Hennessey (Crystal Palace); Roberts (Swansea City), Mepham (Bournemouth), Lawrence (Anderlecht), Davies (Tottenham Hotspur); Allen (Stoke City), Ampadu (Chelsea); Wilson (Liverpool), Brooks (Bournemouth), James (Swansea City); Bale (Real Madrid)