Wales manager Jayne Ludlow says she feels "angry," after a 1-0 defeat to Norway took control of their own destiny away from Wales in European Championship qualifying.— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) October 27, 2020
Jayne Ludlow has named her Cymru starting line-up for the crucial UEFA Women's EURO 2022 qualifier against Norway in Cardiff this afternoon.
Helen Ward and Kayleigh Green lead from the front while Sophie Ingle captains the side on her 102nd international appearance.
Follow @Cymru throughout the match for live updates.
Norway head to the Cardiff City Stadium this afternoon in the knowledge that they can guarantee their place at the finals of UEFA Women's EURO 2022 with the right result.
Opponents celebrating qualification on Welsh soil is nothing new for the team, and stretches back over the course of the last four qualification campaigns, starting almost a decade ago when Scotland effectively booked a EURO 2013 play-off place at the expense of Jarmo Matikainen's Cymru with a 2-1 win at Parc-y-Scarlets.
It was then back in August 2014 that Mark Sampson's England claimed their place at the World Cup with a 4-0 win in Cardiff, while Austria ended their successful EURO 2017 campaign with a 0-0 draw against Cymru at Rodney Parade three years ago in their final group game, although their qualification was already assured.
But the toughest one to take was the most recent one, and a lot has been made in the media this week of the fact that Phil Neville's England celebrated in a similar way at Rodney Parade two years ago when their 3-0 victory over Cymru confirmed qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.
It was a hard watch for Cymru as the success directly came at the expense of Jayne Ludlow's side. "That feeling won't leave us, it was heartbreaking," said striker Helen Ward. "It's our home pitch and we are not thinking about letting Norway have their party, no way."
Norway have a perfect record at the top of Group C, and manager Jayne Ludlow explained to BBC Sport Wales yesterday the size of the challenge ahead. "It's a top level game for us so we're excited. We will have to be at our best. But my players want to compete and come out on top and if we do that, there is no reason we can't come out of it with a positive result.
"To beat them everything would have to go right for us. But I have lots of respect for how my players compete. I have some tough decisions to make with selection and that's a great thing. It's nice to have everyone available."
Cymru captain Sophie Ingle spoke to the media on the eve of the crucial UEFA Women's EURO 2022 qualifier against Norway and made it clear what level her team must reach to get the right result.
"We all have to be at our best and we're under no illusion that we all have to do a job on the pitch," said Ingle. "Whether that's starting the game or the girls coming on as subs. We all have to be at our absolute best to potentially get a result that we need."
Jayne Ludlow's side are second in the Group C standings, four points behind the group leaders who also have a game in hand. But holding that second spot will be key for Cymru, as it will guarantee the side a play-off place at the very least. Cymru have never qualified for the finals of a major women's tournament, but Ingle believes that this is their time.
"I think all of us have worked so hard for so many years, mainly the older ones who have been here for so long, I think qualification is the last thing that they want to tick off their list of what they have done in their careers, and what better way to do it than with this group of girls."
Cymru defender Rhiannon Roberts spoke to the media over the weekend and reflected on the performance of Jayne Ludlow's side in the narrow 1-0 defeat against Norway last month ahead of the return match on Tuesday.
"It was a tough one to take in Oslo," said Roberts. "We did a lot of things right, and it was bittersweet as we did play well and created opportunities, but it was disappointing that we couldn't come away with something. It's going to be a good game on Tuesday."
Norway are the current group leaders and currently hold a perfect record in the campaign, but Cymru are well-placed for the runners-up position following the 4-0 win over the Faroe Islands last week. "We got off to a great start against the Faroe Islands and it was a case of getting the job done," Roberts added. "But now our focus is on Norway. It's a different game plan, it's a different opposition.
"I really do believe that this is our time. You've got to go up and compete against these big teams if you want to qualify, and this group of players love to rise to the challenge. If we're going to play against these big teams in the finals then we have to stand up and compete against them in the qualifying rounds. We're pretty much a full-time squad and we've got such a good chance to qualify now. We're going to do everything we can to do that."
Restrictions imposed by the pandemic have altered the way the side have had to prepare for the challenge, but having been forced to postpone her wedding in May, Roberts is more than happy to be playing and competing during these difficult times that mean the match will once again be played behind closed doors.
"We're so lucky that we've been able to continue our journey and continue playing," she explained. "Hopefully we can bring a smile to the nation on Tuesday. It's been different, there's a lot changes but we have to be careful. We can't afford to lose one or two players so we've got to keep everyone as safe as possible. It's been strange and it's been different, but it is what it is. We can go out and play football and train everyday, so we can't complaint about that."
Wales will be back in action against Norway tomorrow, here's a reminder of the goals against Faroe Islands on Thursday pic.twitter.com/AihoYak40A— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) October 26, 2020
Norway have emerged as one of the leading nations in the women's game in recent years, reaching the quarter-finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2019.
The side are managed Martin Sjögren, the 43-year old took charge of the side in 2016 having won the league title in his native Sweden with Linköpings FC. The side are captained by experienced defender Maren Mjelde who is set to make her 150th international appearance against Cymru on Tuesday.
Cymru captain Sophie Ingle will be very familiar with Mjelde and Guro Reiten, as the trio play together at Chelsea in the FA Women's Super League. Meanwhile, Barcelona striker Caroline Graham Hanson is one to watch, and is the current leading scorer in the squad with 38 goals from her 85 appearances, including her 10 goals in the current qualifying campaign.
Wales host qualification rivals Norway on Tuesday.— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) October 25, 2020
Striker Helen Ward says Wales are determined not to endure another qualification party for a rival team.
Jayne Ludlow and her Cymru squad have been back in the gym and on the training ground over the weekend in preparation for the EURO 2022 qualifier against Norway.
Cymru came through the 4-0 win over the Faroe Islands without any injury concerns, and Ludlow was able to experiment with her side in the second half by making five outfield changes.
Here are a few photos from the weekend.
Helen Ward is the all-time leading goalscorer in the history of the Cymru Women's national team, and added to her total last week as she opened the scoring in the 4-0 win against the Faroe Islands.
The 34-year old Watford striker is the veteran of the squad having made her international debut back in September 2008, and now has 43 goals for her country to her name.
"She's proven time and time again that we can rely on her for goals," said manager Jayne Ludlow after the game. "Helen is a huge part of what we're doing right now as a squad as she's a mentor to many of our youngsters, but she's still capable of going out there and being one of our best performers when we need her too."
Cymru currently sit second in Group C of UEFA Women's EURO 2022 qualifying, and now face the challenge of undefeated group leaders Norway at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday (4.30pm).
Jayne Ludlow's side claimed a comfortable 4-0 win against the Faroe Islands last week. The side have two home games remaining to complete the group, with a scheduled fixture against Belarus in December to follow the match against Norway.
Here's a reminder of the current group standings.
Following their 4-0 win over Faroe Islands, Cymru now prepare to meet Norway in their latest EURO qualifier on Tuesday, 27 October.
Get all the latest updates ahead of the game at Cardiff City Stadium here in the live match hub.