Wales out to inflict more pain

2015-11-12 13:13
Gareth Bale in action for Wales (File)

London - A rising power in European football meets a fading force this Friday as Wales begin their Euro 2016 preparations against a Netherlands team still reeling from their failure to qualify.

While Wales are looking forward to their first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup, the Netherlands will spend next summer kicking their heels after missing out on a place in France just 15 months on from a stunning third-place finish at last year's World Cup in Brazil.

When the teams last met, Holland winning 2-0 in Amsterdam in June 2014, it was the Dutch who were using the match to tune up for a major tournament, and Wales defender Ben Davies is thrilled that the boot is now on the other foot.

"We were a preparation game for them last time and now it's their turn," the Tottenham Hotspur left-back said this week.

"But it's still a good test for us, even though they didn't qualify. They've got some very good players we have to be aware of and they'll be out to prove a point that they're not the team everybody is saying they are."

Wales have lost just one of the 10 games they have played since that encounter in Amsterdam, but the one defeat, away to Bosnia-Herzegovina last month, fell on the night that their qualification was confirmed.

June's 1-0 win over Belgium demonstrated their ability to compete with the sport's heavyweights and Chris Coleman's side finished their qualifying campaign having conceded only four goals.

But they will take on the Dutch in Friday's friendly at the Cardiff City Stadium bereft of their two star players, as Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who between them scored nine of their 11 goals in qualifying, have both been ruled out by injury.

With Reading forward Hal Robson-Kanu also sidelined, Burnley's Sam Vokes is in line to start up front if he can overcome a groin complaint.

Read more on:    netherlands  |  wales  |  euro 2016  |  soccer


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