It is a simple equation for Wales: Victory over Israel on Sunday will guarantee them a place at Euro 2016 and their first major tournament appearance for well over half a century.
The Cardiff City Stadium will be a cauldron of noise, with the majority of those generating it having never experienced such an occasion. Form certainly suggests Chris Coleman’s side can earn their place in France here, as they come into it off the back of three consecutive wins in Group B, a run which began with a convincing 3-0 win in Israel back in March.
Gareth Bale’s pace and all-round brilliance proved too much for them that day, and will once again provide the biggest threat to a side which is likely to achieve at least a play-off spot, lying five points behind Wales in third after they saw off whipping boys Andorra with four first half goals on Thursday.
The Real Madrid star was also the difference for Wales last time out as he grabbed the crucial 82nd minute winner in a hard-fought encounter away to Cyprus on the day that his side had the satisfaction of moving above England in the world rankings for the first time, and a win here could conceivably lift them up to second when FIFA’s listings are next released.
Israel will pose an attacking threat, so it will not be an easy game for Wales, who will be determined not to crack under the pressure and weight of expectation. However, the defence clearly has the ability to keep the visitors at arm’s length, with Ashley Williams as commanding at the back as he is for Swansea City, somewhat overshadowed by the profile of Bale and, to a lesser extent, Aaron Ramsey.
Joe Ledley is doubtful for Wales after withdrawing from the game in Cyprus, so David Edwards is likely to keep his place in midfield. Coleman may decide to go unchanged, but David Cotterill and Sam Vokes are among those who could earn starts.
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