One year on from Bordeaux, Wales face another Eastern European challenge
9 June 2017

One year on from Bordeaux, Wales face another Eastern European challenge

Wind the clocks back a year to 11 June 2016 and, for those not fortunate enough to have witnessed Sweden in 1958, this was the biggest day of many a Welsh fans life to date.

Serbia v Wales

2018 FIFA World Cup - European Qualifiers 

  • Stadion Rajko Mitić, Belgrade
  • Sunday, 11 June, KO 19:45
  • Live coverage: Sky Sports, S4C, BBC Radio Wales/Cymru
  • Follow updates on FA Wales Twitter & Facebook

Wales vs Slovakia, at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux. The crowd, the significance, the spirit, just absolutely everything about the occasion, there was a sense from the arrival at the stadium that this might be Wales’ day, everything just seemed perfect and Wales duly went on to secure the first of many remarkable results in what was a superb summer for Welsh football.

There’s only one fixture this summer, but it’s another huge game against an Eastern European side, a year on from that game against Slovakia – Sunday’s showdown with Serbia in Belgrade. A positive result would help Wales in their quest to reach another major tournament next summer - the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Following a very productive and positive return to Wales’ Pre-EURO 2016 base of Vale do Lobo in Portugal last week, the Dragons confirmed their final squad for the meeting with Slavoljub Muslin’s men, and it is a squad that balances great experience and talent with youthful exuberance.

Joe Walsh, Tom Lockyer, Gethin Jones, Ben Woodburn, Lee Evans and Harry Wilson – all stars for Wales’ various intermediate teams in recent years – join the established group of talents that has represented Wales for many years.

Fresh off the back of winning his third UEFA Champions League title in four years – in his home town at the National Stadium of Wales – Gareth Bale will take no part in this game due to suspension, and neither will Neil Taylor for the same reason.

There is, however, plenty of reasons for optimism ahead of this game, not least the fresh faces previously mentioned in the squad and Wales’ typically strong preparations. 

It’s a sign of the increasing profile of Welsh football with the players coming into this game off the back of some great showings for their clubs during the past domestic season.

Talismanic midfielder Aaron Ramsey, is going into the game off the back of his superb showing in the FA Cup Final for Arsenal, whereas Tom Lawrence has had a magnificent season for Ipswich and Sam Vokes will notch his 50th cap for Wales if he takes to the pitch in Belgrade.

At the back, James Chester has had a great season for Aston Villa in the Championship, as has Chris Gunter for Reading, whereas Ashley Williams and Ben Davies have stood out for their respective clubs in The Premier League. Danny Ward, Wayne Hennessey and Owain Fôn Williams have been strong between the sticks throughout the year.

That’s just to pick out a few players, but everyone is coming into the camp in impressive form once again, as Wales head to Serbia setting their sights on securing all three points.

One year on from Bordeaux, Wales will need to produce another result when it matters. With the ever incredible support of the Red Wall, Wales always have every chance.