Keeping their EURO 2020 hopes alive and kicking, Wales will make the trip to Slovakia’s City Arena Trnava on Thursday in a matchup that many have billed as a must-win contest for The Dragons.
Keeping the morale in their camp at a high with a friendly victory over Belarus last time out, their incredibly hard-fought 1-0 win over Azerbaijan sees them now sat three points adrift of the top-two and Thursday’s hosts.
While Wales might be hunting down a deficit in the race to secure an automatic route to EURO 2020, Slovakia will know that their destiny remains in their own hands.
Despite enduring a mixed level of consistency in Group E, Pavel Hapal’s men did land a 2-1 win away at Hungary last month, undoubtedly their best result so far in qualifying.
While Slovakia will open Thursday’s contest as a clear favourite, Giggs’ men will hold some pleasant memories in their previous meeting against Sokoli.
Opening their Group E campaign with a 1-0 win in Cardiff, The Dragons can be found at 21/10 with Betfair to land back-to-back victories in midweek.
Slovakia seeking stability
Although Slovakia may have managed to pick up a 2-1 win over fellow qualification hopefuls Hungary last month, a result that has certainly increased the mood in their camp, Head Coach Pavel Hapal is demanding some much-needed stability.
Flipping between victories and losses in their previous four Group E appearances, Sokoli will know that they still sit just a single point adrift of top spot and last year’s World Cup finalists Croatia.
If Thursday’s hosts are to secure a crucial three points on home soil, then fans around Trnava will be looking for captain and icon Marek Hamsik to once again spearhead their charge.
Now plying his trade in the Chinese Super League following a move from Napoli, the 32-year-old bagged a brace against Azerbaijan back in June and will once again lead his nation out at the City Arena Trnava.
You might be interested to know that Slovakia’s all-time leading marksman and appearance maker can be found at 7/2 with Ladbrokes to find the net in midweek.
The Dragons look to close the gap
Although the Welsh might not have been at their best against Group E whipping boys Azerbaijan last month, Ryan Giggs’ men still find themselves as a leading contender with the bookmakers to secure a route to EURO 2020.
The Dragons are pencilled in at 11/10 with William Hill to secure a top-two finish come November, only behind league leaders Croatia.
Sadly for the former Manchester United legend, he will be left sweating over the availability of Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey before they make the trip to Trnava.
Also unable to call upon Bournemouth defender Chris Mepham who has had to withdraw due to injury, Juve boss Maurizio Sarri has revealed that Ramsey felt a twinge while warming up for their victory over Inter Milan on Sunday.
The former Arsenal ace has not made a Group E appearance so far and his last cap came back in November 2018.
On the flip side, while one talisman might be forced to extend his international exile, Giggs will be overjoyed to once again be able to call upon Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale.
Bagging the winner against Azerbaijan last month, you might be interested to know that the pacey winger can be found at 15/8 with Coral to once again find the net in midweek.