The Ryan Giggs era has not been without its ups and downs, it’s fair to say, but as Wales go into their final Nations League game they know that any win will secure them a spot in the knockout play-off for League B. It won’t come easy against a Denmark side that has already handily beaten the Dragons in Copenhagen and owns a game in hand over the hosts – Age Hareide’s side know that a draw here leaves them needing only to beat Ireland to progress.
Both sides have seen through much of the autumn without key players who will be available to them here. Wales’ star man, Gareth Bale, has trained comfortably despite a recent knock, while Christian Eriksen has recovered enough from a chronic muscle injury to be available for the Danes. It’s arguable that neither are at 100%, but both will still probably be the best players on the pitch for their respective sides.
Wales vs Denmark Prediction: Wales 2-1 Denmark
Wales have their destiny in their hands for at least these ninety minutes. Welsh fans with long memories will remember that the team of the early nineties had a chance to qualify for the 1994 World Cup and would have made it had they beaten Romania in their last group game – but they botched it in heartbreaking fashion. The stakes are lower this time, and Denmark are not as dangerous a side as the Romanian team of that era. More than anything, though, Wales have a player in Gareth Bale who seems to grow in games like these, and we can see them triumphing on the night in an end-to-end battle.
Our recommended tip: Goals in both halves
Let’s be kind and say that neither of these sides is quite in Europe’s elite. A major part of the reason for that is that while they both have some excellent players, neither one has an excellent team. It’s in games like this that game-breaking players of the nature of Eriksen and Bale can make the most difference. There’s not a single world-class defender in either squad, and we’d expect the upshot of all of this to be that goals are a possibility throughout. At 6/5 with Betway (2.20), it feels almost inevitable that there will be early and late strikes.
You don’t have to look too far back for a meeting between these sides – Denmark hosted Giggs’ men just over two months ago in this same competition. A Welsh side that had just thrashed Ireland faced a fresh Danish XI, who had cunningly earned a night off by going on strike for their previous game and in the end, the greater freshness told. Denmark won 2-0, both goals coming from Eriksen (on 32 minutes and 63). Bale and Aaron Ramsey, who both played the 90 minutes that night, will feel that they owe a more complete performance this evening.
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Players to watch: Gareth Bale & Christian Eriksen
After questions over the fitness of the Real Madrid forward, reports that Bale will be fine to start here have drawn some cynicism. There may be some concern over whether the player can make it through 90 minutes, and a string of niggles have kept him from hitting the heights at club level so far this season. However, if you have a player like Bale available to you, it’s always going to be tempting to pick him. Even on one leg he’d be just about the best player on the pitch, and all he needs to do is play like he can for a few minutes.
Eriksen’s situation mirrors that of Bale. For both club and country, the clearest way to see the difference he makes when he is there is to watch when he is not. Without him, Denmark are a tremendously blunt instrument, relying mostly on physical heft and effort. With him in the side, they have a chance against any opposition. The cleverness of Eriksen’s passing and his set-pieces, allied to his accuracy and power when shooting from distance, make him a threat as long as he’s on the pitch. Denmark will hope that means 90 minutes here.