Bale lacks sidekicks, says Neil Humphreys
His teammates must support him like the Swedes back Ibrahimovic
EURO 2016 FRIENDLY
Emil Forsberg 40, Mikael Lustig 57, John Guidetti 87)
Gareth Bale made the difference for Real Madrid in their Champions League triumph, but he can't carry Wales at Euro 2016.
The challenge is beyond even his superlative talents.
The Dragons have reached their first tournament in 58 years, but that's as far at it's likely to go.
The Welsh dream won't get a stay of execution.
Their 3-0 defeat in Sweden last night was less significant than the stodgy, laboured performance, one bereft of inspiration or even heavy industry.
Bale (right) came on for a second-half cameo and displayed a greater urgency, but his obvious superiority underlined Wales' lack of quality.
Both Wales and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden are considered one-man teams, but the distance between masters and makeweights is much wider with the Dragons.
Superheroes usually have sidekicks. Bale is surrounded by balls and chains. He needs more than a miracle in France. He needs a few good men.
Wales had less pace than a three-legged pantomime cow.
Both Erik Hamren and Chris Coleman opted for their trusty 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 formations respectively and, although the line-ups look different, the end goal remains the same. Get the main man involved as soon as possible.
Sweden had the easier option as Ibrahimovic started and Bale was left on the bench and the hosts dominated throughout, thanks to Coleman's defensive line-up.
Bale may bring the stardust, but Ashley Williams carries Wales' greatest hope.
The Swansea centre back hasn't missed a national game for six years. During qualification, Williams guided his country to seven clean sheets in 10 games, but Coleman's strategy left Williams and his colleagues painfully exposed.
Wales opted for three at the back, as they almost certainly will throughout the tournament, which allowed Neil Taylor and Chris Gunter to push forward in their wing-back roles, but the space left over their shoulder was extraordinary.
Despite the game being played at pedestrian pace, Wales were caught napping on the flanks, allowing Mikael Lustig and Martin Olsson to surge forward.
As half-time approached, Sweden finally profited from their opponents' shortcomings. Naturally, Ibrahimovic was involved.
The 34-year-old tracks weakness like a laughing hyena attacking a wounded dear.
Ibrahimovic flourished against a back three, pulling, losing and nut-megging his markers, revelling in the space and a chance to showboat.
Sweden's directness is determined by their genius up front. Ibrahimovic's impatience is infectious. They seek to feed the gluttonous one.
Ibrahimovic was taken out when his work was done.
Bale immediately came on for Wales, as if the friendly wasn't big enough for the both of them.
But Bale could make no difference. He's a proud Dragon, but he's flying without wings.