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Cymru and Poland go head to head tonight for place at Euro 2024

In what promises to be an electrifying showdown, Cymru face Poland in Cardiff tonight (March 26), vying for a coveted spot at Euro 2024. Both teams encountered hurdles in their regular qualifying campaigns but showcased resurgent form in their play-off semi-finals, with Cymru triumphing over Finland 4-1 and Poland dominating Estonia 5-1.

Cymru, amidst their most triumphant era, eyes a third consecutive European Championship appearance. Manager Rob Page expressed the significance of this match, stating, “It would be a great achievement for us to qualify.” Reflecting on their journey, Page acknowledged the inevitable challenges, particularly during transition periods, but commended the team’s resilient response. He added, “To go unbeaten in seven and to play in the manner we’ve done. It really, really pleases me.”

The absence of Cymru from major tournaments for 58 years following the 1958 World Cup underscores the significance of their recent successes. Since their captivating run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, qualification has evolved from a distant hope to an anticipated outcome. The expanded 24-team format and the assistance of the Nations League playoffs further highlight the attainability of this goal for Cymru.

Securing qualification would mark a remarkable turnaround for Cymru, especially considering setbacks like consecutive defeats against Armenia and Turkey last summer. The home loss to Armenia was particularly stinging, casting doubt and scrutiny upon Page’s leadership. However, a resolute victory over Croatia last October provided a glimmer of hope, although automatic qualification remained elusive after a disappointing draw in Armenia. Fortunately, the safety net of the play-offs, earned through their Nations League performance, offered Cymru a second chance.

Poland, despite their passage to the last 16 of the 2022 World Cup, faced their own challenges, enduring a subpar campaign by their standards. Defeats to Moldova and Albania, coupled with a managerial change, underscored their struggles. Like Cymru, Poland relied on the play-offs as a lifeline.

On paper, Poland boasts a formidable squad, anchored by the likes of captain Robert Lewandowski, renowned as one of the world’s premier strikers. The team features several other top-tier talents, including Arsenal’s Jakub Kiwior and Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski. However, Cymru draws strength from their formidable home record at Cardiff City Stadium, having lost only once in their past 15 Euro qualifiers.

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Page expressed the importance of home support and record, stating, “It’s an incredible record, and our supporters are massive.” He called upon the fans to rally behind the team once more, leveraging the home advantage.

In terms of team news, Page faces a challenging decision in attack, with competition for places fierce. Southampton’s David Brooks made an impactful start against Finland, vindicating Page’s selection with an early goal. Leeds United’s Daniel James and others are pushing for inclusion, while regular captain Aaron Ramsey is expected to feature from the bench. Injuries have sidelined several key players, including Wes Burns, Ben Cabango, and Tom Lockyer.

In contrast, Poland faced setbacks as both Przemyslaw Frankowski and Matty Cash suffered injuries during their triumph against Estonia. Cash’s absence is confirmed for the play-off final, potentially paving the way for Bartosz Bereszynski to step in on the right flank.

Predicted Line-ups

Cymru XI: Ward; Davies, Mepham, Rodon; Roberts, Ampadu, J. James, Williams; Brooks, Wilson; Johnson.

Poland XI: Szczesny; Kiwior, Bednarek, Dawidowicz; Bereszynski, Zielinski, Slisz, Piotrowski, Zalewski; Swiderski, Lewandowski.

Where, when and how?

Venue: Cardiff City Stadium Date: Tuesday, 26 March Kick-off: 19:45 GMT

Coverage: Live on Viaplay, Live on S4C, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website and app, plus live text

Highlights: Match of the Day Wales, BBC One Wales from 22:40

Betting Odds

  • Wales win: 6/4
  • Draw: 2/1
  • Poland win: 11/5