In the first part of a key double-header for Ryan Giggs' Wales, they travel to Slovakia for a crucial match in Group E of UEFA Euro 2020 Qualification.
Stadion Antona Malatinskeho, Trnava, Slovakia
Key Stat: Wales have only won one of their last six away matches, including losing the last three in a row.
Expert Verdict: Wales' record on the road is what will hold them back in this group as they look to stay in contention for Euro 2020 qualification. Slovakia are almost as inconsistent as the Welsh, however, and a draw could be on the cards in Bratislava.
Miroslav Stoch was the most notable player cut from the longlist for this month’s qualifier against Wales and friendly with Paraguay. They will be without suspended Denis Vavro for this match – he picked up his third yellow card in the win against Hungary last month. Experienced duo Martin Skrtel and Adam Nemec are back in the squad.
Robbie Mak – The Zenit St Petersburg man scored his 12th international goal in the win against Hungary last month, from 58 caps.
Adam Nemec – The experienced striker generally has a good goalscoring record wherever he goes and that is reflected at national level with 13 from 42 appearances.
Marek Hamsik – The key man in the team might now ply his trade in China, but with 24 goals in 116 appearances he is very much still a crucial player for Slovakia.
Slovakia had a very mixed time in the last two qualifiers in September. After beating Azerbaijan 5-1 in June, they were on the receiving end of a thrashing themselves – losing 4-0 at home to Croatia last month. But they bounced back to stay in contention in this group when Robbie Mak and Robert Bozenik scored in a 2-1 win away to Hungary.
Defenders:Lubomir Satka, Milan Skriniar, Martin Skrtel, David Hancko
Midfielders:Juraj Kucka, Stanislav Lobotka, Marek Hamsik
Forwards:Robbie Mak, Adam Nemec, Robert Bozenik
Ryan Giggs elected to call Tom Lawrence into the squad despite the winger being involved in a drink-driving incident that resulted in a police charge and being fined six weeks wages by the club. He is expected to recover from a dead leg to play against Slovakia. Chris Mepham is out injured, however, so there will be at least one change from the side which beat Azerbaijan. Fit-again Aaron Ramsey is back in the squad and also likely to start.
Gareth Bale – The Real Madrid man’s late winner against Azerbaijan was his 32nd for Wales as he continues to extend his national goalscoring record.
Daniel James – Scored the winner when these teams last met and against Belarus last month, and the Manchester United winger has made a promising start to his career at Old Trafford too.
Aaron Ramsey – Back from injury and straight into the Juventus line-up, there is no doubt the midfielder remains key for Wales after 14 goals in his 58 appearances to date.
Wales won both matches they played last month, after back-to-back defeats on the road in June. An own goal and Gareth Bale’s late strike ensured they got back to winning ways with a 2-1 win against Azerbaijan before Daniel James scored the only goal of their friendly victory against Belarus.
Defenders:Connor Roberts, Joe Rodon, Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor
Defensive Midfielders:Ethan Ampadu
Attacking Midfielders:Harry Wilson, Aaron Ramsey, Daniel James, Tom Lawrence
Wales have won the last three matches they have played against Slovakia, since losing their first ever meeting. The Welsh won 1-0 in March in the reverse fixture, with Daniel James scoring the only goal of the game.
Wales’ home form is the reason they are still in a good position to push for a top-two spot in this group but their away form is a concern.
That should give Slovakia confidence they can hit back in this game, having lost in Wales back in March after Daniel James’ goal.
James, Gareth Bale, Harry Wilson, Tom Lawrence and Aaron Ramsey makes a potential front five packed with talent, creativity and goalscoring ability for the Welsh.
But at the back, particularly without Chris Mepham, there is a weakness to be exploited. Afghanistan scored past them last time out, even if Wales went on to win through Bale’s late goal.
Slovakia have experienced players Martin Skrtel and Adam Nemec back involved for this month’s fixtures and those two could be key players.
The biggest question will be whether Slovakia can produce the sort of performance that saw them win in Hungary, or be more like the team thrashed at home by Croatia.
Their inconsistency makes it hard to back them, which is why the draw is such a tempting bet.
Slovakia are favourites to beat Wales thanks to their home advantage, with the Welsh in poor form away, but can be backed for as high as 29/20 with Ladbrokes and Bet365. The draw is a tempting price, at a best price of 11/5 with Bet365 and 888sport.
Wales’ recent matches have produced few goals – one was enough when these sides last met – and under 2.5 goals will return 8/15 with Bet365, Ladbrokes and Betfair.
Both teams to score is nevertheless potentially worth backing at a best price of 21/20 with Betfair, however.
Gareth Bales is a large part of that .he is 19/10 with Betway to score at any time for the Welsh. Goalscorer when these teams last met, and again in Wales’ most recent game, Daniel James is a generous best price of 19/4 with 888sport.
Slovakia are inconsistent and Wales have a poor record on their travels. A draw could be on the cards.