Match Hub: Finland vs Cymru
International
3 September 2020

Match Hub: Finland vs Cymru

EARLY ADVANTAGE IN UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE

04 September 202010:04am

Following the 1-0 win over Finland on Thursday night, Cymru now lead League B Group 4 of the UEFA Nations League after Bulgaria and the Republic of Ireland played out a 1-1 draw in Sofia.

The action continues on Sunday when Cymru return to Cardiff to take on Bulgaria (2pm) and the Republic of Ireland host Finland in Dublin (5pm).

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A GREAT NIGHT FOR CYMRU

04 September 20209:45am

Ryan Giggs and his Cymru squad returned to Cardiff in the early hours of Friday morning with three points secured following the 1-0 win over Finland in the UEFA Nations League.

Kieffer Moore was once again the hero for Cymru with his third goal in just six games for his country, while Giggs handed three more players their international debuts on another successful night for the side. Attentions now turn to Sunday when Bulgaria provide the opposition at the Cardiff City Stadium (2pm).

Here are a few images for the victory in Helsinki.

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GIGGS DELIGHT AT NATIONS LEAGUE WIN

03 September 20209:25pm

A late goal from Kieffer Moore made it three straight wins for Cymru, while manager Ryan Giggs handed another three young players their senior international debuts.

"I thought it was a really gritty performance," said Giggs to Sky Sports after the match. "It wasn't the usual flowing football that we're capable of, but credit to Finland as they made it difficult for us. We had chances early on, and it's the kind of game that we can learn from and take a lot of pluses as we dug out a result in the end. I always say that with a clean sheet you've always got a chance because of the players that we've got, and those players produced again."

Dylan Levitt was named in the starting line-up for his first cap, while Neco Williams and Ben Cabango both came off the bench. Captain Gareth Bale was substituted at half-time, but Giggs put any injury concerns to rest. 

"It was planned to take Gareth off after 45 minutes. He's had the least amount of football out of everyone. Centre forwards always want to score goals and I'm pleased for him. It wasn't easy for Dylan against a big, physical side but I thought he grew into the game very well. Neco and his energy and quality really shone through. Ben had slightly less time, but three debutants bodes well for the future."

Cymru are now undefeated in their last seven games heading into Sunday's UEFA Nations League match against Bulgaria in Cardiff. 

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THE TEAMS ARE IN

03 September 20205:07pm

Ryan Giggs has named his starting line-up for the UEFA Nations League match against Finland in Helsinki this evening.

Midfielder Dylan Levitt makes his first senior appearance for his country in midfield, while Kieffer Moore again leads from the front with Daniel James and captain Gareth Bale providing support.

Follow @Cymru for live match updates and check back here later for the post-match reaction.

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BALE TAKING A SENIOR ROLE

03 September 20204:32pm

It seems like only the other day that John Toshack introduced a teenage Gareth Bale to the challenges of international football, but now the 31-year old is one of the senior statesman in the squad.

"To be the longest-serving player here at the moment is quite surreal to be honest," Bale explained when the team landed in Helsinki last night. "I feel like it was only a couple of years ago I was one of the youngest."

Now a veteran of 83 senior appearances for his country, the all-time record goalscorer is preparing for the finals of his second major tournament, starting tonight as the second edition of the UEFA Nations League begins against Finland before the side take on Bulgaria in Cardiff on Sunday.

"It's great to be here," he added. "We're preparing well for the games that are up and coming and it's that first step to prepare for the Euro's as well. We haven't had too much training, not everyone is match fit, but we've prepared as well as we can. We will give it our best go, as we always do, and hopefully we will come away with a victory."

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GIGGS HIGHLIGHTS PLAYER OPPORTUNITY

03 September 202011:07am

The Cymru squad were late arrivals in Helsinki last night, but manager Ryan Giggs was in confident mood ahead of the UEFA Nations League fixture against Finland this evening.

"We've got some new faces, some older faces, and it's an opportunity for players to lay down a marker for what's going to be a big 10 months," explained Giggs. "Obviously we want to win the game but with an eye on doing a bit of experimental work to what players can do at this level.

"It's been a good couple of days and everyone is looking forward to getting back to playing international football. We haven't worked together for 10 months and there's been a good vibe about this week."

Meanwhile, Hal Robson-Kanu revealed earlier in the week how much he is relishing his return to international football having reversed his retirement decision.

"I spoke to him (Giggs) the back end of last year prior to qualification being confirmed," explained the striker. "I said I'm in a much better place now. If he wanted to call on my services, I'd be ready to be called upon. When I made the decision initially, he was phenomenal.

"I spoke to him quite a few times before making the decision and he was really great about it. From his perspective, he said the door was never going to be closed. If the opportunity did arise, he'd consider me and he's shown that's the case."

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THE FANS VIEW – DYLAN LEVITT

03 September 20206:44am

Teenage Dylan Levitt is one of a number of talented youngsters included in the Cymru squad, but how much do you know about the Manchester United midfielder?

Welshfootballfans.com recently profiled the highly-rated star of the future who has been a regular feature in the Cymru intermediate and senior squads over the last couple of years. Here's what they had to say -

"Since the age of eight, Levitt has worn Manchester red. The 19-year-old central midfielder scaled through the academy ranks, playing for the U18s during the 2017/18 season and making the jump to Neil Wood's U23 squad in 2018. He signed his first professional contract in April 2018, approved terms in 2020 to keep him at the club until June 2022 last year and so far has made 74 appearances, scoring 14 goals with 16 assists in three seasons at the club's youth level.

"He's featured in Wales U17 and U18, made 14 appearances for Paul Bodin's U19 side and debuted for the U21 squad in October. He was called up by Giggs for recent qualifiers over Hungary, Azerbaijan, Slovakia and Croatia, and now for the Nations League, though he's yet to be handed a full senior international debut.

"A creative schemer who prefers to push forward into attacking positions and act as his team's playmaker, Levitt has become something of a midfield composer. He controls the pace and adjusts the tempo. The ball gets under his feet and the team seems to take a ubiquitous deep breath in and out before Levitt sails it back into play. That passing range has likened him to fellow Manchester United players Paul Scholes and Paul Pogba - long passes which glide across the pitch to land on what could be a penny if he so cared to do so."

Click here for the full article

MEET THE REF

02 September 20206:00pm

Daniel Siebert of Germany will take charge of the UEFA Nations League match between Finland and Cymru in Helsinki on Thursday evening.

The 36-year old has been a FIFA referee since 2015 and this will be the first time that he has officiated either nation at any level. During the 2019/20 season, Siebert refereed UEFA Champions League and Europa League fixtures, as well EURO 2020 qualifiers in Poland and Armenia. 

Domestically, Siebert has refereed in the Bundesliga since 2012 and has officiated over 100 matches in the German top-flight during his career. He also took charge of the DFL Supercup match between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich last year.

Siebert will be assisted on Thursday by Jan Seidel and Rafael Foltyn while Bastian Dankert is the 4th official. All of the match officials are from Germany.

BACK ON THE GRASS

02 September 20205:35pm

Cymru continued their preparations in Cardiff this morning before heading to Helsinki for the UEFA Nations League fixture against Finland on Thursday evening.

The squad were again in good spirits ahead of the opening match in what will be the second edition of the tournament. Ryan Giggs' squad have not played a single match since confirming qualification for the EURO 2020 finals last November, and the players are clearly ready to get back to international action.

Here are a couple of images from training earlier today.

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GIGGS IMPRESSED BY NEXT GENERATION

02 September 202010:59am

Defenders Neco Williams and Ben Cabango have made positive impressions at Liverpool and Swansea City in recent weeks, and the duo are now looking to make the same mark on the international stage.

"I am excited by these two new good talents," said Cymru manager Ryan Giggs to the media this week. "There's an eye on winning the games, but also a definite eye on the summer and building for the future. First of all we're dealing with the here and now, but we also have one eye on the Euros.

"I've always said if everyone's fit that it will be a nightmare picking that 23 next summer. It's getting harder with the likes of Ben and Neco coming into the frame."

Ben Woodburn also returns to the senior squad, while exciting Nottingham Forest prospect Brennan Johnson is another looking to continue his international career under Giggs having progressed through the intermediate teams with a number of impressive performances.

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PREVIOUS MEETINGS

02 September 20208:02am

There have been 12 previous meetings between Cymru and Finland, with the two nations tied in the statistical record having won four games each with four draws.

The first meeting took place back in May 1971 when a solitary goal from John Toshack separated the sides in Helsinki to earn Dave Bowen's team three points in EURO qualifying. Toshack was also on target in the return match at the Vetch Field, Swansea later that year as Cymru won 3-0. Alan Durban and Gil Reece completed the scoring.

Current Cymru manager Ryan Giggs represented his country in three games against Finland, scoring in the 2-1 defeat in Cardiff in March 2000, which was the first international football match played at the Millennium Stadium. Giggs also faced Finland in EURO qualifying, winning 2-0 in Helsinki in September 2002 before being held to a 1-1 draw in front of over 70,000 fans in Cardiff a year later.

The last fixture between the two nations took place at the Cardiff City Stadium in November 2013 as Chris Coleman's side were held to a 1-1 draw in an international friendly. Andy King opened the scoring for Cymru early in the second half, but Riku Riski equalised in the final minutes for the visitors.

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GIGGS ON DANIEL JAMES

01 September 20208:10pm

Cymru manager Ryan Giggs believes Daniel James will be back to his best with the national team this week.

"He will turn up fit and raring to go," Giggs told BBC Sport Wales. "He is a player I know well. He had a really good start to his United career but didn't play as much towards the end of the season, but sometimes in the long run that can help you. You can have a different perspective of things. DJ has always been great when he has come into camp.

Click here for the full story

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LEVITT MAKING HEADLINES

01 September 20206:55pm

Dylan Levitt was the name making the headlines today with reports in the Western Mail and South Wales Echo that the Manchester United youngster is set to get his chance with Cymru in the upcoming UEFA Nations League fixtures.

Cymru manager Ryan Giggs has been impressed with the midfielder and included him in his senior squad during the successful UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying campaign. The 19-year old has represented Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League and the EFL Trophy but is yet to make his Premier League debut.

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PREPARATIONS CONTINUE

01 September 20206:47pm

Ryan Giggs' Cymru squad were out on the training ground this morning making the most of the September sun ahead of the opening UEFA Nations League match against Finland at the Helsingin Olympiastadion in Helsinki on Thursday evening.

The mix of new and familiar faces has been a constant under Giggs since his appointment in January 2018, and the blend of youth and experience once again brings with it confidence and belief as Cymru head into this opening round of fixtures in League B Group 4.

Ben Cabango, Neco Williams and Brennan Johnson are all included in the squad for the first time following impressive performances for both their clubs and the intermediate teams.

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SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT

01 September 20205:48pm

International football makes a welcome return this week with the second edition of the UEFA Nations League.

Cymru manager recently sat down with FAWTV to discuss his squad selection ahead of the double-header against Finland and Bulgaria. Click the video below to hear what the Cymru boss had to say.

Follow live updates from the Cymru camp as Ryan Giggs prepares his squad for UEFA Nations League matches against Finland (3 September) in Helsinki and Bulgaria (6 September) in Cardiff. 

Keep checking this page for all the very latest news and information throughout the week.