Bale aiming to star for Wales on 3G pitch.
Europe’s ruling football body, UEFA, has long been ignoring lobbying by most of its member nations to set up a qualifying tournament for smaller countries, principalities, dukedoms and assorted states who wish to participate in major tournaments but don’t have the resources to compete with the continent’s better sides – but those pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
We’ve seen the likes of San Marino, Luxembourg, the Faroe Islands and Malta suffer humiliation in recent years and poor old Gibraltar got a reality check from Poland in the first-ever competitive fixture on Sunday evening.
The latter haven’t even got a suitable stadium in which to stage matches yet UEFA have cheerfully opened the door for the British Overseas Territory to engage the continent’s best on a level playing field.
Andorra, which you will struggle to find on a map and is better known for value-for-money skiing resorts rather than footballers, have laid an artificial 3G pitch in their tiny capital Andorra La Vella so can finally play their matches on home plastic rather than in neighbouring Barcelona.
It’s finally been given the go-ahead by UEFA and Wales will be their guinea pigs hoping to get their own Group B campaign off to a winning start.
Anything but a Welsh victory (1/9) is unthinkable. It’s 58 years since Wales last qualified for a major tournament and they’ll face stiffer tasks against Belgium and Bosnia-Herzogovina in the coming months.
But Chris Coleman’s men have a chance this time around as long as Gareth Bale is available for most matches.
Andorra has only won one competitive match in its entire history and haven’t scored a goal since 2010 – they also conceded an average of three in their 10 games during qualifying for the last World Cup – so Wales to keep a clean sheet against Koldo Alvarez’ team looks a fairly sound wager at 4/9.
Wales to win both halves is 11/10 with Bale and company available at 13/10 to overcome a two-goal start for their hosts on the European handicap.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Tuesday, September 9th on the 3G pitch of Andorra La Vella.