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The Welsh national football team is heading into the crucial phase in their battle for Euro 2020 qualification. The Dragons will first face Slovakia away at Stadion Antona Malatinskeho in Trnava on 10th October, where after an appeal by the Welsh FA those 2,137 Welsh fans are able to attend – UEFA had placed a stadium ban as a punishment for racist chants, but overturned the decision later on. The second fixture is a home game against World Cup 2018 finalists Croatia at Cardiff City Stadium.
The teams Wales is facing are on top of the group after playing five games, while the Dragons are fourth but have a game in hand. So far the Welsh have beaten Slovakia and Azerbaijan at home, 1-0 and 2-1 respectively, but lost to Hungary and Croatia on the road. While Croatia seems like a surefire qualifier with 10 points in five games, they dropped points in a draw against Azerbaijan in Baku. Slovakia and Hungary are tied at nine points, but Hungary has lost both games against Slovakia.
Wales has to reach the top to in order to qualify for the Euro 2020 tournament, played next summer around Europe. Their remaining games after this week are on the road against Azerbaijan, which has proven tricky for the best of the teams and at home against Hungary, a game that might prove to be the ultimate decider between the two.
Welsh boss Ryan Giggs is likely to have a fit and willing squad at his disposal for the crucial fixtures. Bournemouth defender Chris Mepham is the only starter missing out due to injury and is likely replaced by Ashley Williams in the starting XI. Midfielder Aaron Ramsey was sidelined for the Sunday’s domestic league game between Juventus and Inter, but the small niggle shouldn’t stop him from playing. Derby County’s Tom Lawrence is a question mark, but Manchester United’s Dan James, Bournemouth forward Harry Wilson and Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale are all available for Giggs.
With two extremely important games only three days apart, Giggs might be poised to rotate the squad somewhat to keep his players fresh for the challenge. While the home fixture is always emphasized, this time it might be worth to go all-in against weaker Slovakia side and then see if there’s anything left for the latter Croatia game. Winning in Slovakia would put Wales in the second spot and put the keys to qualification in their own hands.
Slovakia vs Wales (1×2): 2.44 – 2.98 – 2.82
Euro 2020 Qualifiers – Group E winner Wales: 6.00