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UEFA Nations League: Finland Test For Ryan Giggs’ Wales


UEFA Nations League: Finland Test For Ryan Giggs’ Wales

Finland vs Wales

Wales head to Finland for their UEFA Nations League opener on Thursday in the competitive Group B4.

Promotion to League A is the target, and with Bulgaria and the Republic of Ireland making up the four, this is a tight group to call.

So Wales head coach Ryan Giggs will be desperate to open up with a win, but he has his work cut out against a Finland team on the up and with quality at either end of the pitch.

Finland boss Markku Kanerva has overseen a resurgence in the national side, taking them up to 58th in the FIFA World Rankings, 35 places below Wales who are currently in 23rd.

But with the hosts in the ascendancy, the UEFA Nations League 2020 betting odds point to a tough night for Giggs’ men.

Talking Points

Finland breaking new ground

Kanerva’s Finland made history last November by qualifying for Euro 2021, finishing second to Italy in their qualifying group J.

It’s the first time this small Scandinavian nation has qualified for a major tournament and Bayer Leverkusen keeper Lukas Hradecky said that November 15th is a day that should go down in history.

“This could be a date for a national holiday in my opinion,” he said. “We made our dreams come true, plenty of people share that thought with us.”

While Hradecky keeps the goals out at one end of the pitch, Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki slams them in at the other end and he scored two as Finland qualified with a 3-0 win over Liechtenstein, finishing in a comfortable second place.

That ended a run of 32 failed qualifying campaigns and sparked wild celebrations in Helsinki.

Pukki scored nine goals in nine games in the campaign, taking his tally to 25 from 80 internationals and he will be Finland’s biggest threat against Wales and the Republic of Ireland three days later.

Kanerva won 59 caps for Finland as a central defender while scoring one goal. But since his appointment as head coach in 2016, he has taken his nation to new heights.

Depleted Wales squad is reliant on Bale

He’s been the go-to man for the Welsh Dragons for a decade and Real Madrid’s Gareth Bales will have a lot on his shoulders when Wales head to Finland.

Giggs has been hit by the news that four of his squad have pulled out, including influential midfielder Aaron Ramsay.

The Juve man is injured, as is highly-rated Bournemouth winger David Brooks, who has been out for most of the domestic season with an ankle injury. Defender Ashley Williams and Leeds United striker Tyler Roberts are also sidelined alongside Joe Allen.

Giggs has called up Liverpool youngster Ben Woodburn while striker Hal Robson-Kanu returns to the squad following a three-year absence.

Bale needs one of those special nights.

Real Madrid are still wondering what to do with their man having left him out of the their Champions League squad for a crunch tie with Manchester City.

But that doesn’t worry Giggs who is used to dealing with his star when he can’t get a game for Los Blancos.

It’s Wales’ first game since qualifying for Euro 2021 and Bale should be right up for this match. He is likely to make headlines in the upcoming UEFA Nations League 2020 news and Wales fans will be praying they are all positive!

History

Finland have never qualified for a World Cup. But as well as making the finals of the European Championship for the first time, they were promoted from Group C of the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

After a long absence from finals football, Wales reached the semifinals of Euro 2016 and have qualified again for the 2021 tournament, beating Hungary 2-0 in their final deciding game.

Of the nine meetings between these two since 1971, Wales have won four to Finland’s two and there have been three draws, but Finland have had the better of recent clashes.

The Finns won both their victories the last time the teams met competitively back in the 2009 World Cup qualifiers — 2-1 at home and 0-2 in Wales — and they are unbeaten in the last four meetings.

Betting Tip

Finland are at 2.97 to win this game while Wales are at 2.32. The Dragons have the biggest star in Wales, but Finland have quality too and will put up a good fight.

At odds of 4.85, 1-1 is the most likely result and I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Bale and Pukki on the score sheet.

There’s more to come for SBOTOP Nations League fans over the next two weeks with all four leagues underway.

And for a kick-off, this Group B match has plenty to keep us entertained.

1X2 Draw @ 3.05

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

 

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