The last time that Wales and Slovakia faced each-other, it was in a nail-biting encounter in Euro 2016, when Hal Robson Kanu’s winner gave them huge momentum, and a similar result today is just as vital as they look to get their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign off to a winning start.
Wales didn’t manage to reach the 2018 World Cup, with defeat to Ireland in a late stage group game ending their chances of reaching the playoffs, although the damage might well have been done when conceding the lead in four of their qualifying games. Teams sitting back to negate the pace of Gareth Bale was a new factor for them, especially as they tried to crowd Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen in midfield.
Their UEFA Nations League campaign was roughly where one would expect them to be – they were beaten twice by Denmark but even in the short format, were too good for the Republic of Ireland.
Ryan Giggs has had 10 games in the job but he has a big chance according to the bookies to take this side to another international tournament. World Cup runners-up Croatia are long odds on with Star to take the group but Wales are second-favourites for the group and favourites to take the second spot that would give them a place in the Euros.
Slovakia have made a good start to their qualifying campaign thanks to a 2-0 victory over Hungary at home on Thursday, the second win in three games for new manager Pavel Hapal, who was just appointed in October. They were good value for that success with late goals in each half from Ondrej Duda and Albert Rusnak, when they looked like the side who had a 23 spot advantage in the FIFA rankings.
Much like Ryan Giggs, he has two stars to work with – Marek Hamsik, who ended his 11-year stay at Napoli last month to join Chinese club Dalian Yifang, and the impressively tough and composed Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar.
Giggs is sadly shorn of Aaron Ramsey with a thigh injury but he will have a much stronger squad at his disposal than the second XI he played against Trinidad and Tobago in a bid to keep his stars fresh for this game, including Gareth Bale, who is fit and back thriving against under Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid.
David Brooks’ has emerged as a new talent to add to the side after a number of fine performances with Bournemouth whilst Harry Wilson has arguably been Derby’s player of the season to boot.
Wales are frustratingly missing Ethan Ampadu too but they still look to have aces in the pack to change the game if needs be, and crucially home advantage.
Wales v Slovakia
UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier
14:00 S4C / Sky Sports Football / Sky Sports Main Event
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
JUN 2016 EURO 2016 Wales 2-1 Slovakia
SEP 2007 EURO 2008 QUALIFYING Slovakia 2-5 Wales
OCT 2006 EURO 2008 QUALIFYING Wales 1-5 Slovakia
Slovakia have lost six of their last seven fixtures on the road which perhaps goes a long way to explaining why the hosts are 21/20 with starsports.bet. However, none of them have been by more than one goal and Welsh qualifying fixtures are habitually tight. The 12/5 about Wales taking the three points by a single goal might be value and could give punters a good run for their money.
RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK WALES TO WIN BY EXACTLY 1 GOAL 4 points at 12/5 with starsports.bet
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