Wales are gearing up for a decisive European Qualifier against Hungary, live on Sky Sports.
Wales vs Hungary – 7pm, live on Sky Sports Main Event
State of play – Group E: Wales have kept their destiny in their own hands courtesy of a run of eight points from their last four games in Group E, leaving them a single point behind Hungary, who occupy the second qualifying slot.
Perhaps it was fate that these two would be drawn to go head to head in their final group match, in what is very much a win-or-bust encounter. Three points will be enough to guarantee the winner’s place at next summer’s finals, with the loser consigned to the lottery of March’s 16-team play-offs.
A draw won’t be enough to see Wales through automatically but they are already assured of a play-off spot, while a point in Cardiff would leave Hungary hoping that Azerbaijan can do them a favour against Slovakia in the group’s other game.
Otherwise, it’ll be Slovakia confirmed as one of next summer’s finalists, and Hungary dropping down into the play-offs.
Coming up: Tuesday – Wales vs Hungary and Slovakia vs Azerbaijan
Team news: Wales boss Ryan Giggs has said key players Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey should both be fit to start in the crunch clash.
Goalkeeper Danny Ward, defender Neil Taylor and midfielder Tom Lawrence all withdrew ahead of Saturday’s 2-0 win over Azerbaijan.
How to watch: Watch the game live from 7pm on Sky Sports Main Event. Follow updates on the Sky Sports website and app.
Giggs: We got the favours we needed
Wales manager Giggs admitted his side had needed a helping hand to keep themselves in contention for automatic qualification, with Hungary losing two of their previous three games ahead of Tuesday’s clash.
But with their fate now back in their own hands, the former Manchester United winger is confident his country can capitalise.
“We needed favours and we got those favours, now it is time for us to capitalise, it’s in our hands,” he said. “It’s a great, exciting challenge for us but we need to finish the job – it will be a very, very difficult game.”
Giggs will be happy to be able to call on both Ramsey and Bale to start against Hungary, although he admitted there is no guarantee both will be able to complete 90 minutes.
“The lads who go minutes needed minutes. It’s a bit of a balancing act, the players I know who can’t play 90 minutes – that will obviously influence the selection,” he said.
“Gareth and Aaron were in that scenario. They are both ready to start.”
Bale: I’m ready to go
Bale had not made an appearance for club side Real Madrid since his last Wales appearance against Croatia last month before he played an hour in their 2-0 win in Azerbaijan over the weekend.
But he said he will be fit and ready to go again against Hungary as one of Wales’ most important players in Tuesday night’s game.
“I am ready,” he said. “I had not played for a month so it was important to get 60 minutes under my belt on Saturday. We spoke before the game about playing for an hour, so it was perfect to be 2-0 up.
“I’m ready to go for Tuesday night. We know it’s going to be a big game, but we want to use our football experience to get through.
“It’s been a bit of an up-and-down campaign, but since the last loss to Hungary we’ve played well and built confidence. We’ve got the euphoria of qualifying for the first Euros and doing so well, and we really want to do well again.”
Bale has urged Wales’ young players to “stay calm” and “be patient” in the crunch clash.
Tuesday’s match could be the biggest international so far for many of Wales’ young players – including 19-year-old Ethan Ampadu and 22-year-old Daniel James – and senior forward Bale has given them some words of advice.
“We’ll be sitting down and we’ll be talking to them before we go out – in the changing rooms we’ll be telling them to stay calm, keep your head and just be patient,” he told Sky Sports News.
“That’s the main thing for us – patience is key and we can’t get too frustrated. We know teams like Hungary do frustrate other teams and we know at our place that we’re strong so we have to be patient.”
Other matches on Sky
All other matches kick off at 7.45pm and are live on Sky Sports Football via the Red Button (unless stated), or the Sky Sports app.