MX23RW : Thursday, July 29 14:36:13| >> :600:1829481:1829481:
Sep 3, 2020 at 7.45pm UK at Helsingin olympiastadion
FinlandFinland
0-1
WalesWales

Sparv (26'), Pukki (47'), Vaisanen (72')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Moore (80')
Morrell (36'), Roberts (69'), Wilson (86'), Moore (90+3')

Preview: Finland vs. Wales - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's UEFA Nations League clash between Finland and Wales, including team news and predicted lineups.

Two sides anticipating their ventures in the rescheduled European Championships will first meet in the UEFA Nations League as Finland play host to Wales in Group B4 on Thursday.

Finland took top spot in Group C2 in the 2018-19 edition to achieve promotion to Group B, while Wales finished second in their group with Denmark and Ireland in the inaugural Nations League.


Match preview

Finland boss Markku Kanerva pictured on June 11, 2019© Reuters

Finland recently made history by qualifying for the European Championships for the first time ever, and Markku Kanerva's side have every right to feel optimistic about their fortunes heading into next year's tournament.

Spearheading the Finland attack, Teemu Pukki's 10 goals helped the European first-timers finish second in Group J behind Italy, and Kanerva's men enjoyed six wins from 10 outings to pave the way for a route into the 16th European Championships.

For now, though, Huuhkajat must navigate six fixtures in the second edition of the Nations League, but their 2018-19 run makes for good reading for the Finland faithful ahead of their opening match with Wales.

Kanerva's men topped Group C2 with four wins from six games against Hungary, Greece and Estonia, and Finland kept clean sheets in all four of their victories in the group.

Finland's Nations League outings tended to be low-scoring affairs – they prevailed in three of their victories by a 1-0 scoreline and managed to top the group despite netting just five goals along the way.

Incredibly, Finland have not shared the spoils in a fixture since March 2018, where they played out a goalless stalemate with North Macedonia in a friendly – winning 13 and losing eight since then.

Wales manager Ryan Giggs gestures to the fans after the match on November 19, 2019© Reuters

Like their opponents, Wales also have a Euro 2020 campaign to look forward to as Ryan Giggs led them to second place in Group E behind Croatia.

The Dragons ended their qualifying campaign in perfect fashion with 2-0 victories over Azerbaijan and Hungary respectively, and Wales managed to pip Slovakia to the runners-up spot by one point after eight matches.

Wales' 2018-19 Nations League campaign was a mixed bag for Giggs and his players, who triumphed in both of their games with the Republic of Ireland but succumbed to two defeats against Denmark.

However, including their friendly victory over Belarus back in September, Wales have strung together a six-game unbeaten run and promotion to League A will be firmly within their sights ahead of their Nations League opener later this week.

The last game between Finland and Wales ended in a 1-1 stalemate back in a 2013 friendly, and the Dragons have not triumphed over the Nordic nation since 2002.

Finland form (all competitions): WLLWWL

Wales form (all competitions): WWDDWW


Team News

Aaron Ramsey celebrates scoring for Wales on November 19, 2019© Reuters

Finland will have to make do without centre-back Paulus Arajuuri after the 32-year-old picked up an injury in training.

Daniel O'Shaughnessy has been named in the squad having chosen to represent Finland over Ireland, and the defender will be vying to get some minutes on the board when Finland face off against the Boys in Green three days after their clash with Wales.

As for the Dragons, Giggs recently lost a number of players ahead of the international fixtures, with Aaron Ramsey, David Brooks and Tyler Roberts all succumbing to injuries.

Ashley Williams has made the decision to withdraw from the squad for personal reasons, but fellow defender Neco Williams will be holding out for his first start for the senior side.

Gareth Bale has been included in the squad despite his troubles at Real Madrid, and the 31-year-old is in contention to join Harry Wilson and Daniel James behind Hal Robson-Kanu on Thursday evening.

Finland possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; Granlund, L. Vaisanen, S. Vaisanen, Uronen; Jensen, Kamara, Sparv, Soiri; Pukki, Pohjanpalo

Wales possible starting lineup:
Hennessey; Williams, Lockyer, Ampadu, Davies; Morrell, Vaulks; Bale, Wilson, James; Robson-Kanu


SM words green background

We say: Finland 1-1 Wales

This clash has all the makings of a closely-fought battle between two sides who have only been heading in one direction recently. Finland's defensive resilience is well-documented, but Wales have a plethora of talented attacking stars in their ranks, and we think that a draw is the most probable outcome at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium.



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Thursday's key events


ROWING
· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

HOCKEY
· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

CANOE SLALOM
· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

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