Russia will look to take their last available chance to get into the Euro 2016 knockout stages when they take on Wales, who will have one eye on automatic qualification. This Group B fixture will be played at the Stadium Municipal in Toulouse on Monday, June 20.
On many counts this has been an unimpressive campaign from the Russians so far. Injuries have been their bane but with just one point in the kitty so far, they are staring at an early flight back home. A last gasp goal helped them rob a point against England raising hopes of progression to knockouts. But Slovakia weren’t as generous and Russia came second best in all departments in their second match. Although the score line of 2-1 indicates a closer game, the result was never beyond Slovakia barring a few tense moments late in the game.
Russia currently are bottom of Group B with just one point and desperately require a victory over Wales in their final fixture. A Slovakian win over England in the other game will end their automatic qualification hopes. But, a four point haul will put Russia in good radar to snatch one of the four places available for third placed teams.
Wales are not in the red zone that Russia is in, but would certainly feel hard done by the loss to England. Their long-awaited entry on the continental stage started emphatically when they defeated Slovakia in their opening fixture. These hopes received a further boost when they took lead against England thanks to a Gareth Bale free-kick. England looked out of sorts while Wales looked good enough for full points, by the time teams went for a change. But it was not be as inspired substitutes brought England back into the game and eventually won the match for England with an injury time goal.
Wales lie second in the group standings and a win against Russia would guarantee them an automatic berth to the round of 16. Anything less than a win would require a favorable result from the game between England and Slovakia. With all four teams in with a chance of finishing in the top three, the group looks one of the most keenly contested groups of the tournament.
Russia have lost touch with winning and have not sensed a victory in the last five matches with two draws and three losses in that period. In fact, they have just one win in their last seven matches which shows their vulnerability in closing out matches.
Wales too do not come with impressive numbers either – just two wins from their past nine matches. This includes five losses which is a reflection of their defensive capabilities. Wales have no problem in attack, though there is an understated over-reliance on Bale.
Key players and team news
Russia may field without midfielder Oleg Shatov unless he recovers from the knock he picked after the Slovakia game. Denish Glushakov impressed as a substitute and could be pushing for a starting berth.
Dave Edwards could return for Wales after Joe Ledley took a hit on his leg and could miss this game. Hal Robson-Kanu could keep his starting place after an impressive game against England. The spotlight will firmly be on Bale who will have to shoulder additional burden for Wales to progress.
Russia have scored in 12 matches in a row now which bodes well for them ahead of this encounter. But their defence is questionable too with just one clean sheet in their last five matches. With the prospect of facing Bale, there could be more troubles in store for them.
Wales have scored at least one goal in eight of their previous 12 matches. And their defence too is a little shaky with just one clean sheet in seven encounters. These two sides have met four times with Russia winning three and drawing one. But the last encounter was in 2009, casting doubts on this record.
It’s a high stakes game without a doubt for both the sides. With suspect defence, they know pretty well that only goals can save them the blushes. Both sides could find themselves on the scoring sheet while Wales could just edge past Russia.
Back both teams to score at odds of 2.0 with Betfred.