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Ben Davies: Wales go into Croatia clash believing anything’s possible

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 13 Oct 2023

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Ben Davies has urged Wales to summon up the spirit of reaching the World Cup to beat Croatia and keep their European Championship qualification hopes alive.

Turkey’s shock win in Croatia on Thursday night damaged Welsh prospects of claiming a top-two place in Group D.

Wales must now realistically beat top seeds Croatia in Cardiff on Sunday and finish with wins over Armenia and Turkey next month to qualify for Euro 2024.

By doing so, Wales would qualify for a third successive major tournament – two European Championships either side of the 2022 World Cup.

“We know the situation we’re in and it’s definitely going to be challenging,” said Tottenham defender Davies, who will be wearing the Wales armband in the absence of injured captain Aaron Ramsey.

“We’ve shown in the past at Cardiff that against good teams we can win games. It’s the same mentality again that we go into it believing anything’s possible.

“The two World Cup qualifiers (play-offs against Austria and Ukraine) were big pressure moments for this team.

“Arguably people would say they were better sides than us, but we showed that we’re more than capable of making our home in Cardiff a fortress and making it difficult for the opposition.

“We’ve played some of the best teams in Europe there – like Belgium and the Netherlands – and we’ve put good performances in. Playing at home gives us that something special.”

Wales have not beaten Croatia in seven games between the two nations.

There have been three 1-1 draws, including the March meeting in Split when Nathan Broadhead equalised with virtually the last kick of the match to get Wales’ Euro campaign off to a promising start.

Davies said: “They’re a great footballing nation that have had great results over the last 10, 15, 20 years.

“They’re a team stacked with quality players playing at the highest level. We know it’s going to be a hard game, but we believe it’s one we can get something out of.

“It’s a huge opportunity playing at home. If we can get three points, then it will put us in a better situation going into next month.”

Wales warmed up for their Croatia task by sweeping aside friendly opponents Gibraltar 4-0 in Wrexham on Wednesday.

It was Wales’ third consecutive clean sheet following shut-outs against South Korea and Latvia last month, the first time the Dragons have achieved that for nearly three years.

Number one goalkeeper Danny Ward said: “We got back to what we do best in the last camp, being defensively sound.

“That was vital after the summer we had (4-2 and 2-0 defeats to Armenia and Turkey) and we’ve taken that into this camp.”

Ward has yet to play for Leicester this season after losing his first-team place at the Sky Bet Championship club, but the 30-year-old insists that is not an issue while he is on Wales duty.

He said: “It’s different for a goalkeeper as opposed to an outfield player.

“It’s not so much about rhythm, more about bearings, knowing where you are on the pitch, distances, getting up to speed if you like.

“That normally doesn’t take too long for our position thankfully.”

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