On Monday, Wales will go to Latvia in desperate need of a victory to resurrect their flagging qualification campaign for the Euro 2024 tournament and ease the pressure on manager Robert Page.
After winning only one of their previous 13 games, Page and his team have been under intense scrutiny for their performance.
Because Wales is now in fourth place in Group D, a win against the team that is currently in last place, Latvia, in Riga is virtually necessary for Wales to qualify automatically.
“I can’t allow myself to be affected by it [pressure]. Page responded, “I can’t even think about that.”
“I have some work to complete. As a supporter of Wales myself, I would like to be eligible for this.
“As the manager, I would like to fulfill the remainder of my employment agreement in this role. It’s a pleasure to get to work with this particular cast of characters.
“We work in an industry where it is essential to win football games,” the boss said. We are also going through a period of change at the moment.
I am powerless to sway the decisions made by the board or others in higher positions. The only thing I can focus on is winning football games and doing my absolute best in any situation.
“At the very least, even if I try that and it doesn’t work out for me, I’ll be able to walk away with my head held high.”
Since Wales was eliminated from first place in Group D after suffering losses to Armenia and Turkey in June, the future of Page has been a source of uncertainty. There are still four matches left to play in the group stage.
The former manager of Northampton Town and Port Vale became a national hero in Wales because he became the first man to lead Wales to a World Cup since 1958. His accomplishment earned him the title of “national hero.”
But even since they won the World Cup play-off final against Ukraine in June 2022, Wales have only been able to generate one victory; that being a 1-0 success at home over Latvia in March.
As a direct consequence of this, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) has begun conducting an investigation into Page’s position, even as an increasing number of supporters are demanding that he be fired.
“The expectations are too high. “There is a generation of fans who have witnessed Wales qualify for major tournaments,” Page continued. “They are extremely passionate.”
“The loss of players makes the work more difficult, but according to the expectations, we ought to be qualifying. It is not quite as simple as that.
“We are going to keep working at qualifying for each and every tournament.
“The outcomes from the previous evening went in our favor. We are going to keep going until it can no longer be done mathematically.
Wales is currently three points behind second-placed Croatia, who also have a game in hand on Page’s side, and are trailing the group leaders Turkey by a total of six points.
Since only the top two teams qualify for the tournament automatically, Wales’s best chance appears to be to compete for a spot in the play-offs using their Nations League standing.
Latvia is currently ranked 134th in the world and has been defeated in all four of their matches so far, including a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Croatia on Friday.
Reports from the team
On Thursday, Wales played South Korea in a friendly match at home, and the game ended in a goalless draw. This match served as preparation for Wales’ upcoming vital match.
In spite of the fact that he had stated previously that he would “rather not play” that game, Page selected a team that was stronger than expected, and it is likely that he will opt for a line-up that is very similar when they play Latvia.
The 19-year-old midfielder Jordan James of Birmingham City impressed in his maiden start against South Korea. Arsenal captain Aaron Ramsey was given the day off at Cardiff City Stadium and is expected to return to the starting lineup in the same position.
Kieffer Moore and Joe Morrell, both of whom play forward and in the middle, have been suspended for the trip to Riga, while wingers Daniel James and Wes Burns, as well as goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, are unable to travel due to injury.
Compare the data.
Wales has defeated Latvia in both of their contests, prevailing by scores of 2-0 in a friendly match played in August of 2004 and 1-0 in a European Championship qualifier played earlier this year.
The only two victories for Latvia against one of the British home nations were in 1995 (2-1, a Euro qualifier) and 2007 (1-0, a Euro qualifier) against Northern Ireland. Overall, Latvia has a losing record of 11 of their 13 games in all competitions against the British home nations.
The Latvian national team has struggled at home in recent years, losing eight of their last nine European Championship qualifying matches before beating Austria 1-0 in November 2019.
A 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan in November 2019 is the only one of Wales’s last seven away European Championship qualifying matches that the team has won (two draws and four losses). Wales is winless in both of their matches so far in this season.
In both of Wales’ most recent international matches, they were unable to find the back of the net. Under Robert Page’s leadership, Wales has only gone three matches without finding the back of the net once, and that was between June and September of 2021.
Janis Ikaunieks is one of two players in that span of time (together with Roberts Uldrikis) to score more than once for Latvia in their home international matches. Latvia have scored in each of their past seven home international matches, totaling ten goals.
Should he play against Latvia, Connor Roberts will be making his 50th international appearance for Wales. Under Robert Page, only Joe Rodon and Daniel James (both 31 games) have featured more times for the national side than he has (29 games).