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Mission almost accomplished for Wales

Ahead of the Nations League getting started, there was an element of the unknown and a sense of trepidation, perhaps, as to how Wales might fare in the new UEFA competition, particularly after being drawn amongst the second tier of countries participating.

However, the Dragons under Ryan Giggs have acquitted themselves well, topping Group 4 of League B with just one game remaining. All that now stands in the way of promotion to the top table of European international football, is a positive result against Denmark on home soil.

Flying Start in Cardiff
Home results were always going to be a key factor for Wales, so opening their account in the Nations League by thrashing the Republic of Ireland 4-1 was the dream start to the campaign, as they dominated the game from start to finish at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Image Source Embedded: @TeleFootball via Twitter

The statistics show precisely what everyone in the stands witnessed during the game, with 91% passing accuracy and 61% possession, along with the four goals, demonstrating that the Giggs plan for his team worked to perfection.

The winning margin was also important, particularly in a group which features just four matches, with every possible advantage potentially being crucial amidst predictions of tight final standings amongst the three competing teams.

Defeat in Denmark
There was plenty of controversy surrounding the Danish squad in September. Ahead of the game against Wales, leading players rebelled and there was the threat of strike action over image rights with their football association.

Image Source Embedded: @Cymru via Twitter

Remarkably, futsal and semi-professional players were being readied as replacements and even featured in a 3-0 friendly defeat by Slovakia, as Denmark looked for alternatives to avoid possible UEFA sanctions, were they to withdraw from the Wales game.

However, the Danes reached a compromise with their leading international players, meaning Wales had to face a full-strength squad, who proved the better team on the day. Overall play was even between the two sides, but Denmark were the more clinical in their 2-0 win.

Defiance in Dublin
The biggest blow for Giggs ahead of the Republic of Ireland game was the withdrawal of Gareth Bale. Already doubtful after suffering a groin injury in Real Madrid's derby with Atletico Madrid, the 29-year-old was definitively ruled out after FAW medics discovered a calf problem.

Image Source Embedded: @FAWales via Twitter

Despite the selection dilemma for the Welsh manager, there was still plenty of strength and depth in the squad to cover the absence of their talisman, even though a much tougher encounter was expected against the Irish on their home turf.

Nevertheless, a single goal by Harry Wilson proved enough in a tightly contested game at the Aviva Stadium, as Wales cemented their place as MoPlay betting favourites to win their Nations League group, perching themselves at the top of the table with a hard-fought and deserved victory.

Date with Destiny?

All eyes will now be looking ahead to November 16th, when the final competitive game of Group 4 takes place at the Cardiff City Stadium against Denmark. This time Giggs will undoubtedly be keeping his fingers crossed that Bale is fit and available, and his strongest squad of players ready for one last push.

Wales will need to be at their best, because anything less than victory could leave the national team empty-handed, facing another campaign in the second tier of League B instead of promotion to League A, which the whole country will be hoping for.

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Posted: Thursday 25th October 2018
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