Wales will look to keep their outside hopes of qualifying for Brazil 2014 alive by taking all three points against Eastern European giants Croatia. The Welsh are looking for their third consecutive victory under Chris Coleman and a third in four matches after last October’s maiden victory against Scotland was added to by a friendly success against Austria followed by another win over the Scots, this time more impressively at Hampden Park, on Friday night.
A win against the Croats, who comfortably defeated Coleman’s men in Zagreb last October, would close the gap between the two sides to just three points in the visitors’ favour and in front of a partisan crowd at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium, the Welsh will feel confident of getting a result.
That confidence will be boosted even more by the news that Gareth Bale is likely to take his place in the starting XI. Wales’ one true world class player had been struggling with a stomach virus and ankle injury and had to be substituted at half time during the 2-1 win over Scotland after an anonymous 45 minutes. However, after resuming training, the Tottenham winger looks set to start.
Coleman will be forced into making a change in midfield where ex-captain Aaron Ramsey, who equalised at Hamden Park from the penalty spot, is missing through suspension. In his place could come Jonathan Williams, who was outstanding after replacing Bale at half-time on Friday night. Up front, the strike partnership of Hal Robson-Kanu and Craig Bellamy looks set to continue.
For the Croats, Luka Modric will look to run the midfield in the way he has been doing for Real Madrid recently while up front, the undoubted threat comes from Bayern Munich’s prolific Mario Mandzukic, who scored against Wales back in October.
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