Wales open their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign this Sunday by welcoming Slovakia to Cardiff. Wales manager Ryan Giggs was pleased with the way that his team scored a late goal to seal victory in a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday evening, and he has told the press that he would not mind at all if his team developed their ability to conjure up winning goals in the dying minutes of games.
Giggs may have to do without star midfielder Aaron Ramsey for this game. The Arsenal man is struggling to shake off a thigh injury, and sat out the friendly on Thursday evening. Everyone else in the Welsh squad is fit, according to Giggs.
Slovakia head into this game on the back of a fine 2-0 home win over Hungary in their opening Group E game. The goals were scored by Ondrej Duda and Albert Rusnak.
Wales vs Slovakia Prediction: Wales 0-1 Slovakia
Our prediction for this game is that the away side will enjoy a narrow victory. Slovakia have come real class in their side, despite their poor performance in the UEFA Nations League. Their 2-0 victory over Hungary in midweek gave some strong indications of what Wales might expect, and the home side will need to be playing well to keep the visitors at bay. Wales themselves were not particularly impressive in their 1-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago, and they lost to Albania in their last game before that. We think one goal will be enough for Slovakia to beat Wales.
Our recommended tip: Slovakia, 1X2
Our featured tip for this game comes from Paddy Power. The Irish bookie is offering a price of 11/4 on the 1X2 market on Slovakia winning. We think that this is a good bet, as we suspect that Wales will not be good enough to beat the Slovakians, even on home soil. If Aaron Ramsey does not play, the home side’s chances are reduced even further. One goal may well be enough for the visitors to secure the victory. Odds of 11/4 offer good value, and also give you some flexibility when it comes to the precise final scoreline.
Wales and Slovakia have played each other on three previous occasions. Wales have won two of those games and Slovakia one. The first meeting was in 2006 in a European Championship qualifier in Cardiff. Slovakia won 5-1, with the Welsh goal being scored by a young Gareth Bale. The return game, in 2007 in Trnava, was won 5-2 by Wales.
The last time the two sides met was at Euro 2016 in Bordeaux in France, in a group game. Wales won 2-1 that day, thanks to goals from Gareth Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu. Slovakia’s goal was scored by Ondrej Duda.
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Players to watch: Gareth Bale & Ondrej Duda
When it comes to the Wales team, the presence of world-class talent Gareth Bale helps to mask the general lack of quality in the team. Bale will be particularly important on Sunday if Aaron Ramsey, the other genuinely international class player in the team, is missing with injury. Bale can win games for Wales with one moment of magic, but they are a little over-reliant on him at times.
Hertha BSC striker Ondrez Duda is one of Slovakia’s key players. The striker has struck five goals in 30 games for his country, with the latest of those goals coming in the 2-0 win over Hungary in midweek. Wales will be familiar with him, as he scored his country’s only goal in their 2-1 defeat to the Welsh at Euro 2016 in France. He has 10 goals to his name from 25 Bundesliga games in 2018/19.