Rob Page says Wales need to be at their best to beat Finland in Euros play-off

By Sports Desk March 20, 2024

Rob Page insists Wales need their A-game to eliminate Finland and make the Euro 2024 play-off final.

Wales start as clear favourites in Cardiff on Thursday to beat opponents ranked 60th in the world – 31 places below them – and progress to a home play-off final against Estonia or Poland.

Being favourites is a position that tends to sit uncomfortably with Wales, and hopes of making Germany automatically this summer were severely damaged by them taking only one point from unfancied Armenia in their qualifying group.

“The biggest learning curve for me over the last 12 months, irrespective of who we are playing against, is we have to bring our A-game,” Page said at his pre-match press conference.

“We have to deliver the same values that gets us success, then the results will take care of themselves.

“Our record at home is exceptional and we’re in good form at this moment in time.

“Most of the squad are out playing football for their clubs, training has been excellent.

“We have gone through similar experiences with the pressure of the (World Cup) play-off situations against Austria and Ukraine, and the difficulty surrounding that.

“We are all quite relaxed but not underestimating the challenge. There’s everything to play for but we’re fully prepared for it.”

The Wales squad has evolved since a disappointing 2022 World Cup in Qatar when they finished bottom of their group with one point from three games.

Gareth Bale, their talismanic captain, retired after a glittering career for club and country, while other long-serving players such as Joe Allen, Chris Gunter and Jonny Williams also left the scene.

Brennan Johnson, Harry Wilson and Jordan James are among those who have taken on greater responsibility during a Euro 2024 campaign when the Armenia lows were at the opposite end of the spectrum in achievement and performance in taking four points off Croatia.

Page said: “We have lost one of the world’s best players with Gareth.

“There has been enough in the squad to put us in a position where we are two wins away from qualifying for the fourth time (out of five major tournaments).

“Of course he’s going to be missed on and off the pitch but it gives others an opportunity, like Harry, probably a bit-part player when Gareth was at his peak.

“Now H has made a stake for a starting position again and, with what he’s doing at club level, has earned that right.

“Others have taken that opportunity with both hands and are relishing that challenge.”

Page says qualifying for the finals in Germany this summer will be satisfying as it will allow Welsh football to invest in the future and keep moving forward.

He said: “Against all the odds we got to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

“We have invested money and given ourselves the opportunity to qualify. If we qualify for the Euros, we hope it is forward two steps.

“We have learned from the mistakes at the World Cup. We have a plan and a Plan B – and cover every eventuality.

“Once I’ve delivered that to the players then I can relax and rest at ease that they have all the information.”

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