Wales To Lead From The Front In AndorraStats
Andorra v Wales
Wales begin their European qualifying campaign with a trip the Pyrenees to take on Andorra on Tuesday in which the Welsh have to pick up maximum points.
Sitting 199th in FIFA’s World Rankings, it’s no surprise to see that Andorra have a poor recent record, losing each of their past six without scoring a goal with a 1-1 draw in a friendly against Moldova their best result over the past five years.
These undeniable minnows of the game have won only one international of any description over the past decade – against Macedonia in 2004, stats fans – finished bottom of their World Cup qualifying group, losing all ten of their games without scoring a goal and conceding 30. They were also beaten 1-0 by Indonesia in their last outing.
A 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands in a World Cup warm up game for their opponents over the summer is the only loss Wales have suffered in their past five, with wins over Macedonia and Iceland coming either side of a draws with Belgium and Finland.
Now a group of players (quite lazily) dubbed ‘The Golden Generation’ by the media are aiming to reach a major finals for the first time since the 1958 World Cup Finals in Sweden.
Chris Coleman will have been disappointed with the way his side finished their qualifying campaign for World Cup 2014 after his side suffered defeats in three of their final five games in the group – including the only victory of the campaign for Macedonia – to finish fifth of six. The Welsh conceded 20 goals in their ten games too; more than any other team in the group.
Coleman is without a trio of defenders after West Ham’s James Collins, Adam Matthews of Celtic and Wolves’ Sam Ricketts, who are suffering from injuries all withdrew from the squad with Reading winger Hal Robson-Kanu also missing with a knee problem. There are four uncapped players in the squad too but the twin threats of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are clearly the big guns for their boss to call on and both should feature from the start providing they suffer no last minute problems.
It wold be putting it mildly to say that the Andorra squad isn’t filled with household names and each of their squad members ply their trade in their home country but the XI which lost to Indonesia is expected to be retained.
Head to Head
This will be the first time Wales and Andorra have met in an international fixture.
It’s absolutely imperative Wales begin with a win here, and take six points from their two games against the Andorrans, if they are to have any chance whatsoever of reaching a major tournament for the first time in almost 60 years.
They’ll surely do that, but at 1/12 for a win it might be best to delve deeper for some bigger odds.
The biggest concern for Wales has been the artificial pitch they’ll be playing on, which tends to see players injured more frequently but it has been cleared and so a win on the -1 handicap is at 4/11 while a Welsh win with a clean sheet at 40/85 is also well within their grasp.
The pick of the bets for me though is for Wales to win both halves at 10/11.