Wales open Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with easy Andorra test
Wales start off their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign against minnows Andorra, in the hope of making it to their first European Championship since 1976. They are 6/4 to do so and 14/1 to top their group.
The British nation may be relatively small, but they face a side whose total population can fit into England’s Wembley stadium, with a few seats spare.
Andorra represent such poor opposition that their last victory was nearly 10 years ago, and they haven’t netted a goal since August 2013. Even UEFA’s newest nation Gibraltar, who have a population of 30k, have scored and won as recent as June this year.
Chris Coleman’s Dragons go into this game as overwhelming odds-on 1/14 favourites for victory, with home side Andorra priced at 25/1. A draw, meanwhile, is 10/1.
Wales have an almost fully fit side to pick from, and are able to rely on star duo Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey for this Group B fixture, as well as the likes of Joe Allen, Ben Davies and captain Ashley Williams.
Real Madrid star Bale, 7/1 to hit his first hat-trick for his country, was quoted ahead the game. “I don’t feel any added pressure whenever I pull the shirt on for my country,” he said.
“It’s just an honour to play for Wales and I feel the excitement of playing in front of the home crowd. Hopefully we can do them proud this time round and qualify.”
“There is a definite sense of excitement,” he added.
“The start of every campaign is a new chance to qualify and this one more than any other is exciting because we have a team that’s been together a while, great confidence and the fact more teams can qualify.
“It’s a chance we want to take with both hands, but it’s vital to get off to a good start in these groups. We feel we have a good team, we’re able to play good football, and the main thing now is doing the job on the pitch.”
Arsenal’s Ramsey is a 4/1 chance to net two or more, while debut call-up Tom Lawrence, of Manchester United, is priced at 7/2 to score last.
For hosts Andorra, who will be playing on their 3G artificial grass pitch, they hold hope that their two top scorers in the current squad, Ildefons Lima and skipper Oscar Sonejee (both defenders), can net. They are 16/1 and 20/1 respectively to get a goal anytime.
Wales need to get a winning start if they are to qualify for France 2016, and next face World Cup performers Bosnia and Herzegovina in October. The other nations in their group are Belgium, Israel and Cyprus. A top two finish will see them make the finals, while they face a play-off tie if they come third.