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Wales’ preparations for Euro 2020 took a dent on Wednesday night as they suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of France. While the bare result doesn’t tell the whole story, Neco Williams’ 25th-minute red card ended any hopes they had of putting up a proper fight against the world champions.
That was a fixture clearly selected to help fine-tune Wales’ defensive shape and tactics to face the bigger sides, but that all went out the window less than 30 minutes into the contest. Saturday poses a completely different challenge in the shape of the 66th-ranked Albania.
This game is designed to help build confidence and to put a little pep in Robert Page’s team’s step and while they can write that France game off, you get the feeling they really do need a convincing win to achieve that goal. Wales have a tricky group at the Euros featuring Italy, Switzerland and Turkey, and they’ll need to be on it from the first minute when the main event kicks off.
We can expect a full-strength Wales XI on the pitch from the off and Page withdrew the big guns as the France game wore on with a bit of self-preservation in mind. If Wales are to have a good campaign you think they need a convincing win here to get the ball rolling so here’s your Bet Builder for their friendly clash with Albania on Saturday evening.
Saturday 5pm: Wales v Albania
S4C and Sky Sports Football
Wales might not make it to the semi-finals of this European Championships, but they are in a good place and come into the competition beating the teams you’d expect them to. However, they haven’t been able to cut it against the cream of the world crop, losing to Belgium, England and France during the 2020/21 season, conceding three on each occasion.
That’s by-the-by for now, but their seven wins and three draws in their other nine games this season indicates that they’re generally operating to as close a level as they can expect with the squad they have at their disposal. Their form against the teams ranked outside of the world top five makes me very confident about this selection.
Albania are in good form themselves but they’ve mostly been edging past minnows and lost 2-0 against the only decent team they’ve faced this term, England in a World Cup qualifier in March. Page’s boys are rightly the favourites in this contest and are decent enough odds to include in our Bet Builder here.
With the strongest possible lineup taking to the field and every man selected giving everything to make sure they start the Switzerland game, I don’t think there’s much chance of an upset. Wales to Win has to be the first leg of our Bet Builder.
Wales don’t really dominate games, even the ones they win, and as a result they don’t win bucket loads of corners either. In their last five games, they’ve amassed just 15 corners at an average of three per game. With their opposition’s included, the average corners per Wales match is just eight.
Admittedly, Albania’s numbers are far higher, but they’ve been playing, mostly, teams a level or two below Wales and racked up 15 against San Marino and 9 against Belarus, for example. With Wales likely to dominate things here, I think it’s safe to side with Under 10.5 Corners.
Dan James might not be everyone’s cup of tea but the Manchester United speedster looks to be a key part of Wales’ counter-attacking plan. He started against France and I think we can expect him to get the nod again here.
While the end product might often be lacking, his ability to break in behind means we could see James to Have 1 or More Shots On Target in this one. He managed two on target against France and should have a decent chance of at least testing the Albanian keeper once in this one.
Gareth Bale remains Wales’ main man and after a nice long pre-season at Spurs he’s getting back to peak fitness ahead of Euro 2020. Bales thrives when representing his country and has made no secret that he’s been targeting this competition for some time.
After firing a blank against France, he’s going to find opportunities to work the Albanian keeper much more forthcoming in this game. He’s on free-kicks and penalties too, so I think there’s a good chance we see Gareth Bale Score Anytime in this game with Wales having more of the ball, a more attacking mentality and, hopefully, 11 men on the pitch for the full 90.
Bet Builder for Wales v Albania
These selections in an acca insured four-fold Bet Builder will give you odds of around 5/1 with Paddy Power.
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