HomeFootball NewsWales vs Finland: Preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and prediction

Wales vs Finland: Preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and prediction

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The State of Play

Wales are aiming for their third successive UEFA European Championship qualification and fourth major tournament qualification in the last five. They enjoyed a roaring comeback in the qualifying groups when they looked dead and buried as they headed into the autumn. They enjoyed three successive wins against Latvia, Gibraltar and Croatia before a disappointing 1-1 draw with Armenia and then being pushed into the playoffs.

Finland reached their first ever major tournament at the last UEFA European Championships and are aiming to surprise many with back-to-back tournament appearances. The Fins eventually finished above Kazakhstan on goal difference in Group H of qualification but were never truthfully really in the hunt for a top two finish and automatic qualification alongside Denmark and Slovenia.

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Team News

We are 12 months into the post-Gareth Bale era for Wales and they have stumbled upon a successful formula in the last six months or so with a three-at-the-back system. One key absence from the previous international break is Luton Town club captain Tom Lockyer who suffered a cardiac arrest in December.

Markku Kanerva will be without two regulars for the Finnish national team this weekend with two Major League Soccer players left out. Inter Miami winger Robert Taylor has withdrawn from the squad due to injury, whilst Leo Vaisanen has been omitted by the manager.

Expected Line-ups

Wales: Ward; Rodon, Mepham, Davies; Roberts, James, Ampadu, Williams; Wilson, James; Johnson

Finland: Hradecky; Alho, Tenho, Ivanov, Peltola; Kairinen, Schuller, Kamara; Jensen, Pohjanpalo, Hakans

What they Said

Rob Page has heaped the praise upon Leeds United midfielder Ethan Ampadu, who has enjoyed an impressive season in the Championship. “He’s a future Wales captain 100 per cent because he’s already captained Leeds and that’s a big club.”

Prior to UEFA EURO 2020, which was Finland’s first and only ever major tournament qualification to date, Finland boss Markku Kanerva said it was ‘hard to say what is our secret’ in comparison to previous ‘golden generations’ and that remains the case with few players in Europe’s major leagues.

When and How to Watch

This match will be played at the Cardiff City Stadium at 19:45 on Thursday March 21st and will be shown live on Viaplay Sports 1 in the UK. It will also be able to be streamed live via the Viaplay Sports app.

Prediction

Finland found some real form in November when they dispatched of Northern Ireland by four goals to nil but an improved Wales side in Cardiff in a crucial playoff match is a real step up for the northern Europeans. Rob Page and the last decade of Welsh international football has had some emotional nights and this will simply be a stepping stone if they do come out on top in south Wales on Thursday. They will face the winner of Poland or Estonia in the final of Path A but Wales will be very confident, as they should be, of at least being in that final in Cardiff on Tuesday as they are firm favourites against Finland.

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