Ireland Aaron Ramsey and David Brooks among talking points as...

Aaron Ramsey and David Brooks among talking points as Republic faces Wales

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The Republic of Ireland is set to take on Wales in the Nations League as Ryan Giggs’ side seek to recover from their Wembley friendly loss to England.

The Dragons have six points from their opening two games in the competition after 1-0 wins over Finland and Bulgaria last month, ahead of Sunday’s game in Dublin.

Here, we take a closer look at the side Ireland is about to take on.

Bouncing back

Wales had put an eight-game unbeaten run together before losing 3-0 to England on Thursday. The confidence gained in the last 16 months was evident in the opening 25 minutes at Wembley when Wales dominated possession, created a couple of half-chances and were comfortable at the back. But Giggs’ young side were deflated by the first England goal and hope to show more resilience in Dublin.

Ramsey return

<figcaption class=Aaron Ramsey’s creative influence has been missed by Wales over the last year or so (Nick Potts/PA)”>
Aaron Ramsey’s creative influence has been missed by Wales over the last year or so (Nick Potts/PA)

The availability of Juventus playmaker Aaron Ramsey is a huge boost to Wales. Eyebrows were raised when Ramsey sat out the Wembley defeat as a precaution following positive coronavirus tests at Juventus, despite some of his team-mates playing for their countries. Injuries have meant Ramsey has started only once for Wales in almost two years, but his ability to create and score goals could be the difference in Dublin.

Brooks hope

<figcaption class=David Brooks hopes to fire Wales in Dublin after injury problems (Mike Egerton/PA)”>
David Brooks hopes to fire Wales in Dublin after injury problems (Mike Egerton/PA)

If anyone needs to catch a break in the Wales camp it is David Brooks. The 23-year-old forward sparkled initially on the international scene, but ankle surgery slowed his progress and Bournemouth’s relegation dropped him out of the Premier League. Brooks was rested against England with the Nations League in mind and Wales will want him to provide an attacking threat, especially with captain Gareth Bale missing due to injury.

Defensive dilemma

<figcaption class=Conor Coady celebrates England’s second goal in a 3-0 win at Wembley as Wales were punished by crosses into their penalty area (Glyn Kirk/PA)”>
Conor Coady celebrates England’s second goal in a 3-0 win at Wembley as Wales were punished by crosses into their penalty area (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Wales could not cope with crosses at Wembley as England scored all three goals in that fashion. Chris Mepham had a tough night and his place could be under threat even if he recovers from a knock. Ben Cabango and Joe Rodon are Swansea team-mates, but they are used to playing in a three-man defence for their club. Does Giggs – who favours two centre-backs – put them together when they have only seven caps combined, or could he switch Ethan Ampadu from midfield?

World Cup carrot

  1. Wales 6 points
  2. Finland 3
  3. Ireland 1
  4. Bulgaria 1

UEFA’s decision to link the Nations League with European qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar means Wales can not afford to take their foot off the pedal after a strong September start. Successful trips to the Republic of Ireland and Bulgaria this week would put Wales in a powerful position ahead of two closing home games, as well as picking up valuable ranking points. Wales finish their Nations League campaign in November with Cardiff games against the Republic and Finland.

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