BUDAPEST • It goes without saying that when Gareth Bale plays well, Wales play well.
The problem is that the Real Madrid forward is enduring the worst spell of his career.
It is no secret that the Spanish LaLiga giants want him out of the Santiago Bernabeu this summer, but there has been no concrete interest, with Bale having gone goalless for both club and country in the past three months.
His poor form continued on Tuesday night as Wales slumped to their second straight Euro 2020 qualifying defeat in Group E, going down 1-0 to leaders Hungary at the Groupama Arena in Budapest.
Mate Patkai raced onto Adam Szalai's lay-off to drill the winner home with 10 minutes left to give the hosts nine points from four games, three ahead of second-placed Slovakia. Wales are stuck on three points in fourth.
Ryan Giggs' players, beaten 2-1 by Croatia last Saturday, saw their best chance fall to Bale in the second half but, true to form, his tame strike failed to trouble goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.
Just like their loss in Osijek, Giggs' side were undone by hapless defending and wayward finishing.
Afterwards, the Wales manager admitted that the Euro 2016 semi-finalists are facing an uphill task to qualify for next year's edition as "we have to probably win nearly every game now".
The former Manchester United midfielder told BBC Sport: "I know there are still a lot of points, but we have made it really difficult for ourselves.
"You look at the games, we still had enough chances to win the games. In our defence, it is tough - not enough of our players were at peak fitness.
"We are probably relying on teams around us to drop points, which they will do because it is competitive.
"Obviously, we have to start winning and, if not win all the games, then the majority of them."
I know there are still a lot of points, but we have made it really difficult for ourselves... Obviously, we have to start winning and, if not win all the games, then the majority of them.
RYAN GIGGS, Wales manager, on his team who are stuck on three points in fourth in Group E.
Bale's woeful form meant that Giggs chose to field him on the left rather than his customary place up front - United's new boy Daniel James was instead given the nod.
But the 45-year-old Giggs, whose team also missed the cutting thrust of injured Juventus-bound midfielder Aaron Ramsey, insisted that it was the right decision as he was already "asking miracles of our players" as a lot of them were short of game time, including the 29-year-old Bale.
He added: "It's always a bit of a juggling act trying to find where Gareth can be effective. We have so many players who can play off the right or No. 10.
"He is disappointed like all of us with the two games. He has shown over the last few years he can play up front, No. 10, off the right.
"It's my job to try and get his best position and to get the other players in their best positions as well."
Wales' next qualifying match is against Azerbaijan on Sept 6 in Cardiff, where nothing less than a victory will suffice.