Sunday, December 8, 2019

Prediction: Wales vs Azerbaijan

Verdict: Daniel James to score anytime

Best Odds: 11/5

Bookmaker: Bet365

Looking to get back to winning ways in Group E, Wales will welcome Azerbaijan to the Cardiff City Stadium on Friday night.

Wales

Starting with the hosts, while Wales’ 1-0 win over Slovakia in their Group E opener may have improved the mood in the Reds’ camp, Ryan Giggs is now calling on a real response from his side. The former Manchester United legend has seen his side suffer back-to-back defeats against Croatia and Hungary and they now sit down in fourth chasing a three-point deficit. While the Dragons might once again be low on confidence, fans around Cardiff will be boosted by the return of attacking talisman Gareth Bale and they should see Friday is a real chance to bounce back. Including their victory over Slovakia back in March, it is also worth noting that Wales are remarkably enjoying a seven-match European qualifying unbeaten run on home soil, a run that stems all the way back to March 2011. Despite Bale’s return stealing most of the headlines, one man to watch on Friday will be new Manchester United ace, Daniel James. Since making the move from Swansea over the summer, the youngster has three in his last three Premier League appearances.

Team News

Wales will be boosted by Gareth Bale’s return, however, Ryan Giggs will be unable to call upon Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey who has withdrawn due to an injury issue.

Azerbaijan

As for the visitors, suffering a 5-1 hammering against Slovakia in their last Group E appearance, Head Coach Nikola Jurčević has seen his side lose each of their opening three contests and have all but seen their qualifying ambitions disappear once again. Already stuck at the foot of Group E, a huge part of Azerbaijan’s continued issues has been their defensive struggles. Already shipping 10 goals in their opening three appearances, Milli have lost four of their last five matches across all competitions and have not picked up a single victory since November 2018. A squad the is desperately low on both form and confidence, Azerbaijan have also famously struggled when up against Friday’s hosts. Never recording a victory over Wales in any of their seven meetings and losing six of those contests, it is also worth noting that Jurčević’s men have not recorded a single strike against the Dragons since way back in 2004, a three-match run.

Team News

There are no household names in the Azerbaijan squad, although Wales may sensible to watch out for Ramil Sheydaev, who has scored two goals in three qualifying matches.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Wales have won six of the last seven meetings against Azerbaijan and have never lost a matchup against them.
  • The Dragons have also recorded three consecutive clean sheets against Friday’s guests.
  • Azerbaijan have lost four of their last five matches across all competitions.
  • Azerbaijan have also conceded 10 goals in their opening three Group E matches.
  • Daniel James has scored three in his last three Premier League appearances.

Conclusion

While Wales might be coming off the back of back-to-back defeats, Ryan Giggs’ side should see this as a golden opportunity to get back some momentum. With Azerbaijan so publically struggling at the foot of Group E and showing some glaring defensive issues, a red-hot Daniel James should see Friday as the perfect chance to extend on what has been a very eye-catching summer run.

Verdict: Daniel James to score anytime

Best Odds: 11/5

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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