Live Match Hub: Cymru vs Croatia
International
12 October 2019

Live Match Hub: Cymru vs Croatia

GIGGS PLEASED WITH PERFORMANCE

13 October 201910:32pm

Ryan Giggs spoke to the media following Sunday's 1-1 draw against Croatia and praised the performance of his players.

"I'm pleased with the performance and the character against a very strong side," said Giggs. "We didn't panic after going a goal down. You want to be greedy and win, but I'm delighted with a point. It was a very physical game and there was a lot of physical challenges. We need to win the next two games, but that point could be vital. We're relying on Croatia to beat Slovakia, but we need to concentrate on winning our two games.

"It was great work from Ben Davies for the goal, and when Gareth (Bale) gets in those positions he doesn't let you down. I see the quality of this team in training, and these experiences will make the young players better and better. What they show doesn't surprise me. It's the first time I've been able to name the same team, which was good. I'm really pleased, and it's a step forward."

Meanwhile, Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic was less than satisfied after watching his side take an early lead. "It was similar to the games against Hungary and Azerbaijan," he explained. "We started well, but we are not happy with the result. We can't allow to concede a goal in that way. We need to be more focused."

THE TEAMS ARE IN

13 October 20196:27pm

Manager Ryan Giggs has named an unchanged starting line-up from the 1-1 draw against Slovakia for the visit of Croatia in EURO 2020 qualifying this evening.

Defender Ben Davies makes his 50th appearance for his country. Follow @Cymru for live updates throughout the match and check back here later for the post-match reaction.

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MATCHDAY!

13 October 20199:50am

It's another huge day in EURO 2020 qualifying with two crucial games taking place in Group E.

Hungary take on Azerbaijan this afternoon (5pm), and if the visitors take anything from the match, Croatia can qualify for the finals with a victory over Cymru in Cardiff (7.45pm).

Follow @Cymru throughout the day for updates, and check back here later for team news and post-match reaction.

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DAVIES SET FOR APPEARANCE MILESTONE

13 October 20199:45am

Ben Davies could make his 50th appearance for Cymru this evening when Ryan Giggs' side take on Croatia in EURO 2020 qualifying.

The 26-year old Tottenham Hotspur defender made his international debut against Scotland in October 2012, and was key part of the side that reached the semi-final of EURO 2016, although he missed the decisive match against Portugal through suspension.

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GIGGS READY FOR CROATIA CHALLENGE

12 October 201912:02pm

Ryan Giggs spoke to the media this afternoon following Cymru's final training session ahead of Sunday's EURO 2020 Group E qualifier against Croatia in Cardiff.

"We concentrate on the next game, we're home and we have a good home record. But we recognise as well that we're up against a good team. We will have to play better than the other night, because they are one of the best teams in the world. What Croatia have done in recent times is amazing. Against most countries they would be favourites. They are a special team with special players. But we've got good players ourselves.

"It's a balance about wanting to win the game and understanding the strengths of our opponents. Defensively, we need to be aggressive, but three points would help us and that's what we will try to do. We have to kick-on from the other night now and improve. We want the same passion, but we need to keep our discipline. But we don't want to lose that edge or aggressiveness either.

"We've not ruled Aaron (Ramsey) out. He hasn't played in a qualifier yet, and you want your best players available. We're just given him all the time we can, and we've still got over 24 hours. We will assess him in the morning. It's a choice I've got to make. I recognise I may have to freshen things up. We're still assessing the players, so we will see how they are later today.

"He (Kieffer Moore) was in the wars a little bit on Thursday night (against Slovakia). I was really pleased with his display, but I've got choices available. Both Ethan (Ampadu) and Jonny (Williams) trained today, and they both didn't play 90 minutes on Thursday night, which is a bonus."

Giggs was also asked about Ben Davies, with Tottenham Hotspur defender set to earn his 50th cap. "Ben loves playing for his country, he's a consistent performer and a delight to work with. A great professional and a coaches dream. He's consistently an eight out of ten. It's a great occasion for him and his family, if I pick him!"

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BALE PLANNING FOR QUALIFICATION

12 October 201912:03pm

Gareth Bale told the media on Saturday how he believes his Cymru team can make it to the EURO 2020 finals, and with the red wall behind them in Cardiff, the side can beat any opposition on the day ahead of taking on Croatia.

"Every game we go into we try to win. We understand the permutations in the group, but we want to qualify, and that's what we're aiming to do. We haven't been looking at the table too much, our mindset is just to win our remaining three games. We want to get to another major tournament and give it another go. We feel that if we put in a great performance we can beat anybody. You would probably say they are favourites, but that doesn't change anything for us. We still have a plan on how to win the game.

"We know what a great team they, and we know it's going to be very tough. But the Welsh crowd are going to be behind us as always. We've had great results against big teams in our home stadium before, but it's easier said than done. I have to be mindful that I can't afford another yellow card. I don't want to miss any games, especially at this important stage. I'm experienced enough not to make any silly tackles.

"It's not easier stepping up to international level, I know from many years ago how tough it is. But these young players are in the team for a reason and they've showed that they are good enough. I haven't spoken to Luka (Modric) yet. We know each other well, and it would be nice to get one over on him finally. I'm in a better place than where I was in the summer, especially physically."

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RECORD BREAKERS BALE AND MODRIC

11 October 20196:43pm

Gareth Bale made his 80th international appearance as he captained Cymru in the 1-1 draw against Slovakia on Thursday night.

The 30-year old record goalscorer will now face Croatian talisman and Real Madrid teammate Luka Modric on Sunday when the two sides meet in Cardiff. The pair intially played together at Tottenham Hotspur, and were reunited in the Spanish capital back in 2013. They now go head-to-head in the colours of their country for the second time in the campaign.

Modric enjoyed the best year of his career in 2018 as he scooped a host of prestigious individual awards. In addition, the creative midfielder played an influential role in leading Croatia to the World Cup final, and like Bale celebrated UEFA Champions League success with Real Madrid. As well as claiming the highest individual awards from FIFA and UEFA, Modric also ended Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's decade-long monopoly of the Ballon d'Or. 

Having made over 120 appearances for his country since making his debut back in 2006, Modric, 34, is the most-capped played in the current Croatian squad. Meanwhile, Bale became Cymru's all-time leading goalscorer in March 2018 when he surpassed Ian Rush's total of 28, and has now scored 32 goals for his country in his 80 appearances.

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MEET THE REF - BJORN KUIPERS

11 October 20196:23pm

One of Europe's most experienced officials will take charge of Cymru versus Croatia in Cardiff on Sunday with Bjorn Kuipers being named as the man in the middle.

The 46-year old Dutch referee last took charge of Cymru in the UEFA Nations League as he officiated the 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland in Dublin last October. In previous years he has also refereed Cymru in victories over Luxembourg (2008) and Switzerland (2011).

Kuipers became a FIFA referee in 2006 and is a familiar figure in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.

LAST MEETING

11 October 20195:36pm

Croatia claimed a 2-1 win against Ryan Giggs' Cymru when the two teams met in Osijek earlier in the campaign.

Currently unavailable due to a long-term injury, David Brooks produced a memorable moment in the defeat with his 2nd half goal, even though it turned out to be little more than a consolation.

Click the video below to watch Brooks' strike again.

CROATIA HOPING FOR AZERBAIJAN FAVOUR

11 October 20195:56pm

Azerbaijan surprisingly held Group E leaders Croatia to a 1-1 draw in the last round of fixtures, but the 2018 World Cup finalists will be supporting them on Sunday when they take on Hungary (5pm).

If Azerbaijan can avoid defeat, victory for Croatia in Cardiff (7.45pm) would guarantee their place at the EURO 2020 finals, the sixth time since their debut in 1996. Meanwhile, Wales qualified for the first time in 2016, but memorably reached the semi-final stage, an achievement that has so far eluded Croatia in their five previous appearances.

Croatia reached the quarter-final stage in 1996 and 2004. However, it was Chris Coleman's Wales that went one step further in the last tournament. The task for Ryan Giggs' side now is to ensure they remain in the qualification mix heading into the final three games of the campaign.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS - CYMRU v CROATIA

11 October 20195:30pm

The EURO 2020 qualifier between Cymru and Croatia in Cardiff on Sunday will be the sixth meeting between the two teams, and manager Ryan Giggs will be keen to end a run of results that has so far failed to earn the home side a victory in this particular fixture.

The most recent match took place earlier in the campaign (below) as an own goal from James Lawrence was added to by Ivan Perisic in Osijek. David Brooks found the back of the net in the 2nd half, but it was not enough to prevent Cymra slipping to a 2-1 defeat.

The first match between the two sides took place in Varazdin back in August 2002, as an early goal from Simon Davies was cancelled out by Mladen Petric in a 1-1 friendly draw. Wales then returned to Croatia for another friendly in May 2010, but goals from Ivan Rakitic and Drago Gabric earned Slaven Bilic's side victory.

The first competitive match between Wales and Croatia took place in Osijek in October 2012 as Chris Coleman's side looked to make an early impression on their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying group. However, Mario Mandzukic and Eduardo scored either side of half-time to claim a 2-0 win.

It was a similar story in the return match the following March, as despite Gareth Bale opening the scoring at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea from the penalty spot, late goals Eduardo and Dejan Lovren sealed a 2-1 victory for Croatia.

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GIGGS PRAISE FOR KIEFFER MOORE

10 October 201910:12pm

Ryan Giggs spoke to Sky Sports immediately after the 1-1 draw against Slovakia and was keen to highlight the contribution of goalscorer Kieffer Moore (below) on his first start for Cymru.

"I picked him (Kieffer Moore) because I knew we were going to be under pressure as Slovakia like to press" said Giggs. "I like to play out from the back, but I also want to have that option when we are under pressure. Kieffer was magnificent, and it was a brilliant goal.

"Could I say I enjoyed it? Not really. For the neutrals it was end-to-end. Obviously, we were really pleased to go ahead, but then Slovakia came back into it. But overall, I was really pleased with the performance. We had the better chances, so it could have been different, but we were under pressure at times and I thought we stood up to it well.

"We need to be ruthless. With the talented players we've got we will create chances, but we need to put them away. It's fine margins, especially in this group. We need to put those missed chances away in the next game. On Sunday we're up against a very good team, we're at home, and we've got a brilliant record. It will be a great atmosphere."

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POINTS SHARED IN TRNAVA

10 October 20199:48pm

A first international goal for Kieffer Moore on his first international start handed Cymru the lead at half-time against Slovakia, but it eventually finished level after Juraj Kucka equalised for the home side on 53 minutes.

But there were chances for Ryan Giggs' side, with captain Gareth Bale heading against the bar in the opening half and defender Joe Rodon twice coming close before the final whistle.

Giggs will take positives from the performance and the chances created into Sunday's match against Group E leaders Croatia in Cardiff, but will also feel frustrated that his side failed to make the of the opportunities presented to them.

However, Cymru now have the head-to-head advantage over Slovakia following the 1-0 win in March, and that could prove key considering the competitive and close nature of the group.

Meanwhile, Croatia extended their advantage at the top of the group with a comfortable 3-0 win over Hungary. 

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THE TEAMS ARE IN

10 October 20196:24pm

Manager Ryan Giggs has named his Cymru starting line-up for the EURO 2020 qualifier against Slovakia this evening and makes four changes from the 2-1 win over Azerbaijan in Cardiff last month.

Kieffer Moore and Tom Lockyer both make their first senior international starts, while Ben Davies and Jonny Williams also return. Gareth Bale will again captain the side with Ashley Williams on the bench.

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

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MATCHDAY!

10 October 201911:56am

There's a big night ahead for Cymru in EURO 2020 qualifying as Ryan Giggs' side take on Slovakia in Trnava (7.45pm).

Follow @Cymru for more live updates throughout the afternoon and check back here later for team news and all the post-match reaction.

Here's a reminder of the current Group E table ahead of tonight's two fixtures as Slovakia take on Cymru, and leaders Croatia host Hungary.

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GIGGS AND BALE PRESS CONFERENCE

09 October 20198:07pm

Cymru manager Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale spoke with the media earlier this evening ahead of the EURO 2020 qualifier against Slovakia. Here are some of the main points from the press conference -

"He (Aaron Ramsey) has a chance for Sunday. He did a bit on the grass today and our physio has stayed back to work with him for the next couple of days. Tom Lawrence has picked up a bit of a dead leg so he's not trained with the team, similarly with Harry Wilson, they've had limited time on the grass. Slovakia are an experienced team. They don't make many changes from game to game. They're talented individuals and we know it's going to be a difficult task because of all these reasons." - Ryan Giggs

"I've scored against Slovakia in the past, but it doesn't really affect what will happen in the future. Come tomorrow, I don't care who scores, as long as we win the match. It's about the team tomorrow and we need to stick to the game plan. No matter what the situation is, you want to get the three points and win the game. We know what we need to do. I love meeting up with Wales, everybody knows that. We have a task in hand to try and qualify for the Euros. It's a massive game and we want to win and put ourselves right back in the mix." - Gareth Bale

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY JONNY!

09 October 20198:27pm

Jonny Williams celebrated his 26th birthday with his Cymru teammates in Slovakia this evening!

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MEET THE REF - CARLOS DEL CERRO GRANDE

09 October 20196:20pm

Spanish referee Carlos del Cerro Grande will take charge of Slovakia against Wales in EURO 2020 qualifying on Thursday evening.

The 43-year old became a FIFA referee in 2013, and was the 4th official when Wales defeated Georgia 1-0 in Tbilisi back in October 2017. Tom Lawrence scored the only goal for Chris Coleman's side in that World Cup qualifier.

He will be assisted in Trnava by Juan Carlos Yuste and Roberto Alonso, while José María Sánchez is the 4th official. All of the officials are from Spain.

RAMSEY TO MISS SLOVAKIA TEST

09 October 20195:56pm

Aaron Ramsey has not travelled with the Cymru squad to Slovakia for Thursday's EURO 2020 qualifier, but will remain in Cardiff to work on his fitness ahead of Sunday's match against Croatia.

Ramsey was an unused substitute for Juventus in the Serie A fixture against Inter Milan last weekend. Manager Maurizio Sarri explained that the midfielder had felt a twinge in his abductor muscle while warming-up at half-time, and remained on the bench as a precaution.

The 28-year old is yet to make an appearance for Cymru in the current qualifying campaign, while his last international appearance was in November 2018.

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PRESS REPORTS

09 October 201911:54am

Members of the Cymru squad have been busy on media duty recently in the build-up to the latest round of EURO 2020 qualifiers. 

Here are a few key quotes as we look ahead to the upcoming fixtures against Slovakia and Croatia.

"Everyone knows I am happy playing for Wales. I am Welsh. I grew up in Cardiff, went to school in Cardiff and have friends in Cardiff. It has always been Wales for me." - Rabbi Matondo

"They're games we really need to win. The first game we obviously beat Slovakia at home, but we know it's going to be tough away. I think since my first game against Slovakia, the gaffer gave me my chance and I'm grateful for that. I think getting the goal in the first five minutes gave me confidence." - Daniel James (below)

"I think my path's very different to a lot of people, but having got to where I am, I take a lot of pride in it. So to pull on the [Wales] jersey and walk out on to the pitch was massive for me and my family. There was a lot that led up to that moment - it was special." - Kieffer Moore

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PREVIOUS MEETINGS - WALES v SLOVAKIA

08 October 20198:33pm

Only four previous meetings have taken place between Cymru and Slovakia, and Ryan Giggs' side currently lead the series with three victories to Slovakia's one.

The most recent was a 1-0 win thanks to a debut goal from Daniel James when the two sides met at the Cardiff City Stadium at the start of the current campaign back in March. 

The first meeting between the two teams took place in Cardiff in EURO 2008 qualifying back in October 2006, and it proved to be a desperately frustrating afternoon for John Toshack's side as the visitors took maximum points with a 5-1 win.

However, the game offered a glimpse into a future, as Gareth Bale scored his first international goal with a trademark free-kick, and with it became Cymru's youngest-ever goalscorer.

A comprehensive 5-2 win followed for Cymru in the return match in September 2007. Craig Bellamy scored a brace for Wales in the comprehensive victory and was joined on the scoresheet by Freddy Eastwood, Simon Davies and an own goal from Ján Ďurica. 

The most famous fixture between the two sides remains one of the most significant games in the history of Welsh international football.

The opening match of the EURO 2016 finals in Bordeaux proved to be an unforgettable experience, although Slovakia almost took the lead during the opening exchanges when Marek Hamšík was denied by a goal-line clearance from Ben Davies.

After 10 minutes, euphoria engulfed the red wall as Gareth Bale opened the scoring with a free-kick (below). It was the moment that so many had waited so long for, but there was much more to come.

Slovakia worked their way back into the match through substitute Ondrej Duda, but inspired substitution followed as Hal Robson-Kanu replaced Jonny Williams.

With less than 10 minutes remaining, the striker combined with Aaron Ramsey, and diverted the ball into the corner of the Slovakian net to secure the 2-1 victory.

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CAMPAIGN BACK ON TRACK

08 October 20198:45pm

The last EURO 2020 qualifier ended in victory as Gareth Bale scored an 84th minute winner to defeat Azerbaijan 2-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium in September.

The victory followed on from a frustrating summer as Cymru suffered away defeats against Croatia and Hungary, but maintained a perfect home record having started the campaign with a 1-0 win over Slovakia in March.

Click the video below to watch Bale's decisive goal.

HOW IT STANDS IN GROUP E

08 October 20198:47pm

Here's the current situation in EURO 2020 qualifying as Cymru head into two crucial Group E qualifiers against Slovakia and Croatia.

It's set to be another important week in the campaign, as in addition to Slovakia hosting Ryan Giggs' side in Trnava on Thursday evening, group leaders Croatia take on Hungary.

The action continues on Sunday as Azerbaijan travel to Hungary and Wales meet Croatia in Cardiff, and the competitive nature of the group means that there is still everything to play for.

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SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT AND UPDATE

08 October 20198:30pm

Here's a reminder of the 26-man squad that manager Ryan Giggs has selected for the EURO 2020 qualifying double-header against Slovakia and Croatia.

Since the announcement, defender Chris Mepham has been replaced by Regan Poole, who steps up from the U21 squad.

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Cymru go to Slovakia for a UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying match on Thursday (10 October) and host Croatia in Cardiff on Sunday (13 October). You can stay up to date with all the latest news via the Live Match Hub. 

Keep coming back for the latest news and updates relating to the two games.