UEFA Nations League Opposition Watch - Wales

Tue, Oct 16 2018

In the absence of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen will be key in the Wales engine room. Credit: Eoin Smith

Recent Tournament Form

The European Championships in France in 2016 was a hugely impressive tournament for a Chris Coleman-managed Wales side captained by Everton centre half Ashley Williams.

They maintained a strong interest late into the tournament, advancing to their first ever major tournament semi-final only to be beaten by Portugal 2-0.

The qualifying campaign that followed for the World Cup in Russia this year ended in major disappointment and failure to qualify from the same group that featured Ireland.

A James McClean goal in the Cardiff City Stadium last October ensured Ireland advanced to a play-off with Denmark and in failure to qualify for Wales, who ended the group in third place.

Coleman resigned shortly after, and Ryan Giggs has been given the job of steering Wales through the newly-formed UEFA Nations League qualifiers and the regular qualification campaign for Euro 2020.

It has been a mixed bag for Giggs and his new squad in this newly formed tournament so far with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Ireland in the opening game in Cardiff followed up with a 2-0 defeat to group leaders Denmark.

Manager

Giggs was appointed as the new head coach of Wales at the start of 2018 and has overseen a total of six games in charge of his new squad.

The Manchester United legend has an incredible playing record, spending his entire senior career at Old Trafford, making no less than 672 appearances and finding the back of the net on 114 occasions.

His management career began at Old Trafford, starting out as player-coach before taking over as interim manager for the final four games of the season following the sacking of David Moyes.

He continued to learn and gain experience as a coach as assistant manager to Louis Van Gaal before announcing his departure from the club following the appointment of current boss Jose Mourinho.

He was introduced nicely into his current role with a sequence of three friendlies during his first few months of the job, defeating China 6-0, losing narrowly to Uruguay and drawing with Mexico.

His first competitive outing as boss couldn’t have gone any better as they opened their Nations League qualifying campaign with a 4-1 rout of Ireland in Cardiff.

They were soundly beaten by Denmark just days later, a result that leaves them a point behind the Danes ahead of their trip to Dublin.

Giggs played for Wales on 64 occasions himself scoring a total of 12 goals for his country but failed to qualify for or play in a major tournament during his playing career.

Key Player: Joe Allen

With Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey both ruled out for Wales this evening, the experienced Stoke City midfielder will be expected to step up and pull the strings in midfield for Giggs' side.

Allen has a huge amount of top-flight experience over the years covering a number of different midfield roles at Swansea, Liverpool and Stoke, and has captained Wales on a number of occasions.

The tenacious tackler will have no problem hovering around midfield and trying to create chances for his side.

Ramsey and Bale normally bring so much to the Welsh play and, with both missing, Allen’s role becomes so much more important.

Group Position

The group is still wide open before a ball is kicked this evening with Denmark’s draw against Ireland on Saturday night putting them clear at the top on four points.

Wales are close behind on three with tonight’s opposition Ireland third in the group on one point.

All three sides still have something to play for in this group and a win for either side would be a serious boost for morale and confidence and also in terms of the actual league table standings.

A win for Wales would see them leapfrog Denmark into top spot in the group on six points ahead of their meeting in Cardiff.