UEFA Nations League: Wales vs Ireland preview

The second tier of the new UEFA Nations League competition has its first matches on Thursday and local rivals Wales and Ireland meet at Cardiff City Stadium. The two teams have played in the same qualification group for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and Ireland managed to win 1-0 in Wales after being held to a goalless draw in Dublin. However, neither of the two teams managed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, Ireland finished second in the group behind Serbia and Wales ended up third. Wales have not won a match against Ireland since 1992, when they secured a 1-0 friendly victory.

Wales are looking to recover from the disappointment of missing out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup and they have a fair chance to prevail in their UEFA Nations League B group where they play along Ireland and Denmark. The winner of the group will get promoted to the A League and these matches will also count for qualification to the 2020 European Championship. Wales have won just one of their three friendly matches played in 2018, 6-0 against China, while they lost 1-0 to Uruguay and drew 0-0 with Mexico.

Ireland are probably still thinking about their terrible experience in the World Cup qualification play-offs last November, they grabbed a good goalless draw in Denmark in the first leg but then got hammered 5-1 in Dublin even though they had opened the scoring after just six minutes. They had three friendly matches in 2018, starting with back-to-back defeats against Turkey and France and recovering with a 2-1 victory over the United States team in June. Shane Long won't be able to play due to a foot injury and James McClean is also unavailable.

Probable line-ups:

Wales: Hennessey - Gunter, Chester, Williams, Davies - King, Allen - Bale, Ramsey, Lawrence - Vokes

Ireland: Randolph - Coleman, Duffy, Long, Ward - Doherty, Hendrick, Meyler, Browne, O'Dowda - Walters

My prediction: Wales to win 1-0, it's been too long since their last victory over Ireland.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Wales win - 1.90
Draw - 3.10
Ireland win - 4.50

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