Euro 2016 rivals Ronaldo, Bale ‘share mentality not just talent’ – Coleman

Lyon (AFP) – Wales boss Chris Coleman hailed Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale’s mental strength ahead of the showdown between the Real Madrid stars when Wales face Portugal in the Euro 2016 semi-finals on Wednesday.

Coleman said he has received glowing reports about the three-time world player of the year from Welsh legend Ryan Giggs and Ronaldo’s former manager at Manchester United Alex Ferguson.

However, he believes Bale, who has scored three goals in leading Wales to their first major semi-final, has worked just as hard to become the most expensive player in the world.

“If I ever speak to Giggsy or Alex all they speak about is his (Ronaldo’s) desire to get better,” said Coleman.

“You see that on the pitch, how motivated he is for himself to score and win. I think ever since he was young at Man Utd he had that desire to train harder than everyone to get better.

“Talent is a huge distraction, talent is not enough but he has the attitude with it, same as Bale he has the mentality to go with it.”

Captain Ashley Williams insisted Wales will not obsess over stopping Ronaldo, but acknowledged the size of the challenge.

“Obviously he is one of the greatest players in the world, but they do have other weapons,” said the Swansea City defender.

“We are not obsessing over him, we will try to nullify them as a team as we have all tournament.”

– Rise from depths –

On top of Bale’s brilliance the key to Wales’ historic run has been an excellent team spirit that Coleman says comes from the “darker days” when they were as low as 117 in the world rankings less than five years ago.

“We had a whole campaign to get through to get here where they were exactly the same. Where we find ourselves now hasn’t just happened overnight. The bond isn’t just because we’re here playing well.

“Everyone has good team spirit on a shiny day when you are winning. That spirit comes from the darker days when it wasn’t so easy for us.”

And Coleman believes Bale’s laid-back nature despite his star billing has been a key factor in fostering a bond between the players.

“They have to want to work hard, learn, it is not just talent, you need people with good mentalities.

“This group is a good bunch and when you have someone like Gareth Bale who behaves like he does that rubs off.”

Despite reaching the last four without winning a game in 90 minutes, Coleman insisted Portugal’s experience in major competitions makes them the favourites for the Lyon clash.

“We believe in ourselves. We go into this game as underdogs, Portugal have been in seven semi-finals and this is our first but that is not a problem.”

And win or lose on Wednesday, Coleman is sure the future for Welsh football is bright having shown that they can compete with the continent’s best in their first finals for 58 years.

“The worst thing would have been if we didn’t get our game right for this tournament after such a long wait. It would have been a huge step back for us.

“This tournament is part of the learning curve and there is more to come for these boys, long after I am here, and there is success in this team.

“We are here to compete, to show what we are and let’s see if we are is good enough to compete against the best.”

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