MX23RW : Friday, August 6 03:29:32| >> :600:890545:890545:
Nov 18, 2020 at 7.45pm UK at Cardiff City Stadium
WalesWales
3-1
FinlandFinland
Wilson (29'), James (46'), Moore (84')
Ampadu (76')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Pukki (63')
Uronen (12')

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

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's UEFA Nations League clash between Wales and Finland, including predictions, team news and form guide.

Wales take on Finland in a final-game shootout at the Cardiff City Stadium to determine which side earns promotion from League B Group 4 in the UEFA Nations League.

The hosts are top of the standings with 13 points from five matches, one point better off than opponents Finland, whom they beat 1-0 in the reverse fixture two months ago.


Match preview

Wales assistant manager Robert Page pictured on November 15, 2020© Reuters

Continuing with the theme of their entire campaign to date, Wales produced an underwhelming display in Sunday's clash with Republic of Ireland but still got the job done.

David Brooks scored the only goal of the game in what was the sixth meeting between the sides in three years, ensuring that the Dragons are in control of their own destiny.

All four of Wales's Nations League victories have come by the same 1-0 scoreline, although they are usually made to wait until later than the 66th minute to find the breakthrough.

The win over Republic of Ireland makes it one defeat in 13 matches for Wales - a 3-0 friendly loss to England last month - in a run stretching back to June 2019.

In competitive matches, it is seven games without a defeat for Wales, keeping a clean sheet in each of those games in what is their best ever defensive streak.

Finland players celebrate Omma Valakari's goal against France on November 11, 2020© Reuters

Another clean sheet on Wednesday will guarantee promotion to League A, with Wales - managed by Robert Page in the absence of head coach Ryan Giggs - only requiring a point.

Finland have had a near-perfect campaign of their own, the only blemish being a late 1-0 loss to the Dragons when the sides met in Helsinki on September 3.

Not only have the Eagle-Owls won all five Nations League games since then - conceding just once - they also beat France 2-0 last week in a shock friendly result.

Indeed, Markku Kanerva's men found life a little tougher away to Bulgaria on Sunday, hanging on to secure a 2-1 victory that keeps them hot on Wales's heels.

Finland must now beat Wales - something they have only achieved four times in 13 previous attempts - if they are to leapfrog their opponents and claim top spot.

Wales Nations League form: LWWDWW
Wales form (all competitions): WLDWDW

Finland Nations League form: LWWWW
Finland form (all competitions): WLWWWW


Team News

Wales' Gareth Bale and Republic of Ireland's Matt Doherty embrace after the UEFA Nations League clash on November 15, 2020© Reuters

Despite Jose Mourinho airing his concerns over Gareth Bale's fitness, Page played the Tottenham Hotspur forward for the full 90 minutes against Republic of Ireland.

Given the importance of this home clash with Finland, stand-in Wales boss Page is almost certain to start Bale once again on Wednesday, with minimal changes expected.

Wales went with a back five last time out, with Rhys Norrington-Davies and Neco Williams in the wing-back positions, but they may revert to a back four in midweek.

Matthew Smith is pushing for a recall in holding midfield, likely in place of Joe Morrell, while Kieffer Moore seems likely to get the nod up top.

As for Finland, they lost Joel Pohjanpalo to an injury in the first half of their victory over Bulgaria in Sofia, with Marcus Forss brought on in his place.

That could be a big blow for the visitors, especially with Teemu Pukki scoring only once in five Nations League outings to date.

Ilmari Niskanen and Rasmus Schuller are also contenders to start after being brought off the bench against Bulgaria at the weekend.

Wales possible starting lineup:
Ward; Roberts, Mepham, Rodon, Davies; Ampadu, Smith, Brooks; Bale, Moore, James

Finland possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; Alho, Toivio, Arajuuri, Uronen; Lod, Sparv, Kamara, Taylor; Pukki, Forss


SM words green background

We say: Wales 0-0 Finland

Wales have kept five clean sheets from five in League B Group 4, while Finland have shipped only two goals so far.

The visitors enter this game in good form on the back of last week's stunning win over France and narrow victory over Bulgaria, but the Dragons know a point will do and should have enough to grind out a draw.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny pictured on November 15, 2020
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Friday's key events


HOCKEY
· Great Britain's women aim to secure their place on the podium as they face India in the bronze medal match (2.30am)
· Netherlands - silver medallists five years ago - and Argentina battle for the gold medal in the women's final (11am)

BEACH VOLLEYBALL
· The women's gold medal will be decided as Australia and USA go head to head (3.30am)

BOXING
· Lauren Price will be looking to add to Team GB's success in the ring when she takes on Nouchka Fontijn of Netherlands in the women's middleweight semi-final (6am)

DIVING
· Tom Daley already has one Olympic gold to his name in Tokyo, and he begins his bid for second in the men's 10m platform. Teammate Noah Williams is also involved in the preliminary round (7am)

CYCLING
· Jason Kenny's reign as sprint king may be over, but Jack Carlin looked strong in his bid to succeed his compatriot. He takes on Harrie Lavreysen in his sprint semi-final (8.10am), with the final taking place later in the day (10.35am)
· The women's madison makes its Olympic debut at the velodrome as Team GB duo Katie Archibald and Laura Kenny look to add another medal to their collections (9.15am)

FOOTBALL
· Hosts Japan will look to get themselves on the podium as they face Mexico in the men's bronze medal match (10am)
· The women's champions will be crowned as both Sweden and Canada aim to win Olympic gold for the very first time (1pm)

ATHLETICS
· The men's 5000m final includes Great Britain's Andrew Butchart, but most eyes will be on Ugandan world record holder Joshua Cheptegei (1pm)
· Team GB's Jodie Williams will hope to get on the podium in the women's 400m final, but defending champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo is favourite for gold while Stephenie Ann McPherson should challenge and Allyson Felix is bidding to become the most decorated female track and field athlete of all time (1.35pm)
· Netherlands' Sifan Hassan takes on leg two of her ambitious attempt at a Tokyo treble in a women's 1500m final which also includes Great Britain's Laura Muir and Faith Kipyegon of Kenya (1.50pm)
· A star-studded women's 4x100m relay final will see a Team GB quartet including Dina Asher-Smith look to upset defending champions USA and favourites Jamaica, who boast Elaine Thompson-Herah as she goes for her third gold of the Games (2.30pm)
· Great Britain and Jamaica will also be going for gold in the men's 4x100m relay final, and their medal hopes have been boosted by USA's failure to qualify (2.50pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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