Euro 2016 Group B: Wales must run riot against Russia to clinch qualification
Holly Thackeray | June 18, 2016
Russia v Wales
- Euro 2016 Group B
- Monday, June 20th
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST
- Stadium Municipal, Toulouse
- Live on ITV4
Pool B poised on knife edge
Wales will have to summon all their strength against Euro 2016 Group B rivals Russia to be certain of safe passage to the next round, as there is still all to play for in a highly competitive Pool B.
Three points would ensure at least third place, with second spot or even summit prestige up for grabs, depending on what also occurs in the other fixture between England and Slovakia at the same time.
Automatic qualification to the last 16 stage could well come down to goal difference, so the Dragons’ fate is firmly in their own hands, with a 9/2 price from Coral for a Wales win and over 2.5 goals in the game.
The Welsh have, however, only beaten the Russians once before since the break-up of the USSR, so will need their wits about them as 19/10 chances to overcome the past and sink their struggling opponents.
Chris Coleman’s band of merry men must also bounce back from their last-gasp England blow then, but be wary of the wounded Russians, who can also still mathematically qualify through best of third if results go their way, despite propping up the table with just one point.
Weary Russians to rally at last hurdle?
It’s no surprise with their rampant record of five wins from nine versus the Welsh that Leonid Slutsky’s stubborn side are 6/4 to claim their first three point haul of the tournament here.
Yet, the uninspired outings so far suggest a best case scenario bet for Russian success could instead be a fourth fixture draw between the duo at 23/10.
Russia dragged out their encounter with England to eventually split the spoils at the last thanks to skipper and centre back Vasili Berezutski (12/1 to add another anytime), so the Dragons must be cautious of turgid tactics, with their ability to counter attack likely restricted.
Against Slovakia, Slutsky’s men also threatened to grab a late leveler but had to make do with a consolation strike by super sub Denis Glushakov (6/1). Attacking ace Artyom Dzyuba of Zenit St Petersburg is yet to live up to expectations or open his account in the competition, but is 7/4 to change all that against Coleman and co.
Much has been made of the Russian rearguard’s ageing legs, so Wales will want to exploit their pacy attacking edge, though keeper Igor Akinfeev has more than enough in his experienced locker to keep a clean sheet (7/4).
More Bale brilliance required after Three Lions blow
Hard done by in their duel with Home Nation foes England, Wales saw all their good work undone by two second-half substitutes and will be eager to avoid a repeat.
Gareth Bale has, as expected, been the star of the show so far having converted two terrific free-kicks for his Dragons disciples. Akinfeev may not be quite as accommodating with poor positioning for set-pieces, but Bale still possesses far more star power that Russia can muster.
So, back Bale at 10/3 for this third opening goal in a row, or take a punt on menacing Hal Robson-Kanu at 7/1 for the final say following his Slovakia winner.
Attack-minded midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Jonny Williams, meanwhile, are 11/4 and 4/1 to turn their threat into final product anytime respectively. Alternatively, if you fancy the Dragons’ fire to go out, there are odds of 10/1 for Wales to lose a half-time lead. Ouch.
Coral’s top tip: Back Bale at 10/3 for another heroic opening goal.