Gareth Bale ready for Wales’ ‘massive’ Finland match in Nations League finale

Venue: Cardiff City Stadium Date: Wednesday, 18 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sport website and app

Wales host Finland in their final Nations League match needing only a draw to win their group.

Wales are top of Group B4 with 13 points from five matches, one ahead of Wednesday’s opponents.

Winning the group would secure promotion to the top tier of the Nations League and potentially lead to a World Cup qualifying play-off.

“It’s a massive game for us. We want to win the group and get promoted,” said Wales captain Gareth Bale.

“It’s something we set out to do at the start. Having one eye on the Euros [next summer], it gives us things to work on.

“We feel we’re getting better and better each game and it’s important for us as a country to get that winning mentality and that feeling going into the summer.

“If we get promoted we will be testing ourselves against the best countries in the world, which is what we want to do as a nation.

“We want to get better and improve and the only way we’ll do that is by playing better teams.”

This is Wales’ second Nations League campaign in the second tier and promotion to the top level could see them face the likes of France, Spain and Germany.

Winning their group could also help them secure a place in the Qatar 2022 qualifying play-offs.

There are 10 groups in European qualifying for the World Cup, with the 10 winners automatically securing their places at the tournament.

The 10 runners-up then go into the play-offs, joined by the two best Nations League group winners who have not already qualified for the World Cup or secured a play-off place.

So if Wales were to miss out on automatic World Cup qualification or a play-off place – as they did for the 2018 tournament – winning their Nations League group would almost certainly guarantee them a play-off spot via an alternative route.

Team news

All Wales’ players have tested negative for coronavirus after facing a Republic of Ireland side including two players who tested positive.

Matt Doherty and James McClean tested positive after playing in their 1-0 loss to Wales on Sunday.

However, Wales’ players were tested on Monday and assistant manager Robert Page confirmed all results came back negative on Tuesday.

Page also said he had a fully fit squad to choose from. Wales’ only withdrawals this month came before last Thursday’s friendly draw with the United States, with Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey and Swansea City centre-back Ben Cabango pulling out with injuries.

Finland will be without striker Joel Pohjanpalo after he suffered a serious injury to his left ankle during Sunday’s win in Bulgaria.

Defender Juha Pirinen has also left the squad because of injury, while captain and midfielder Tim Sparv is suspended.

Match facts

  • Wales are unbeaten in 10 competitive games, winning seven and drawing three since losing to Hungary in June 2019. They have never gone 11 competitive matches without defeat.
  • It is 11 hours and 51 minutes since Wales conceded a goal in competitive match, with the most recent coming at home to Croatia in October 2019.
  • Finland will be aiming to win five consecutive matches for the first time since October 2018.
  • Wales are aiming to make it 10 games without defeat at home for the first time.
  • Bale has been directly involved in 13 goals in his past 13 home games for Wales, scoring nine and assisting four.
  • Wales have won just two of their past nine games against Finland since 1988, a 2-0 win in September 2002 under Mark Hughes and a 1-0 victory in the most recent meeting in Helsinki in September.

Around the BBC iPlayer bannerAround the BBC iPlayer footer

BBC News