5 talking points ahead of Wales’ qualifying clash in Hungary
Wales play Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday in a crucial Euro 2020 qualifier.
Hungary are top of Group E after winning 3-1 in Azerbaijan on Saturday, three points ahead of Wales who have a game in hand.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at the main talking points ahead of the game.
Wales manager Ryan Giggs admitted he would make changes after the 2-1 defeat to Croatia on Saturday. The quick turnaround in fixtures, as well as the draining afternoon heat in Osijek, means freshening up the team is essential. But how far does Giggs go? Chris Gunter would add experience at right-back after Connor Roberts’ torrid examination against Ivan Perisic, while Ethan Ampadu and David Brooks – whose consolation effort against Croatia was his first Wales goal – are likely to be promoted from the bench if considered fit to start.
Can Dan be the man?
After a whirlwind few days when he had his Manchester United medical and rejoined the Wales squad heading to Croatia, it was perhaps inevitable that Daniel James would be on the periphery in Osijek. The Swansea winger, who will join United in a deal worth around £18million on his return from international duty, had little chance to shine. But Giggs will be hoping that Hungary will be more to his liking and James can show the raw pace and improved end product that has earned the 21-year-old his move to Old Trafford.
Bale needs final flourish
Before Gareth Bale clocks off the summer – one which will probably involve transfer talks away from Real Madrid – the forward needs to rediscover his scoring touch. It was not as if Bale played badly in Osijek, indeed he brought two fine saves from Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic. But Bale has not scored since mid-March and that is far too long for a player of his immense quality. The 29-year-old might be about to leave Real, but he remains Wales’ talisman and his country need a huge performance from their captain.
When the draw was made in December few would have had Wales’ trip to Budapest as a pivotal game in the group. World Cup finalists Croatia were expected to saunter through qualification, leaving Slovakia and Wales to fight out second place. But Hungary’s renaissance has given Group E a different dimension and Wales are suddenly in dare-not lose territory in Budapest.
Magyars on march
So how good are Hungary? Former Liverpool goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, now at RB Leipzig, and Dynamo Kiev’s ex-Newcastle defender Tamas Kadar are two of their best-known players. Hungary have built momentum after losing their opening Euro 2020 qualifier to Slovakia. The head-turning comeback win at home to Croatia was followed by success in Azerbaijan. They have won five, drawn once and lost three since the Italian Marco Rossi was appointed manager 12 months ago.