Date and Time: Thursday 11th October (19:45)
Venue: Principality Stadium
TV: Sky Sports Football
Wales will go toe-to-toe with Luis Enrique’s Spain on Thursday night as the Red Dragons return to the Principality Stadium for the first time in seven years in what is set to be a fantastic spectacle in Cardiff.
Ryan Giggs has named a strong squad with their UEFA Nations League clash with the Republic of Ireland also coming up – Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who scored a goal of the season contender against Fulham for the Gunners during their 5-1 win on Sunday, is one of the men who has been included in Giggs’ 25-man squad.
It will be a good test for the Red Dragons against an evolving, youthful Spanish squad, who beat England 2-1 at Wembley last month, as well as thrashing World Cup finalists Croatia 6-1 in Elche and they will be keen to build on that in Thursday’s friendly at the Principality Stadium.
Spain have named a mixture of youth and experience in their squad. Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos and playmaker Marco Asensio have been included in Enrique’s squad – alongside Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets.
Paco Alcacer, who is currently on-loan at German outfit Borussia Dortmund from Barcelona has been on fire this season – and has also been included in the squad.
The 25-year-old has scored six times in three substitute appearances this season, despite only playing 81 minutes, including a hat-trick as Dortmund beat Augsburg on the weekend to win an epic seven-goal thriller 4-3 at the Westfalenstadion.
Wolves defender Jonny Otto, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid has also been included in the squad following his impressive start to the season under Nuno Espirito Santo. The 24-year-old has been a crucial player for the Midlands-based outfit and will be looking to now impress Enrique for the La Furia Roja.
The Red Dragons haven’t faced off against Spain since 1985 and that was the last time they beat the La Roja as they cruised to a 3-0 victory over the Euro 1984’s runners-up, as Ian Rush scored a brace and Mark Hughes, now manager of Southampton, scored a stunning scissor-kick as they breezed past the Spanish.
However, in spite of beating one of the world’s biggest football giants at the time, Wales failed to qualify for the 1986 World Cup.
Before that game, there had been four other meetings between the two sides – with two of the games finishing in draws, and two of the games finishing in wins for Spain.
Since that defeat, Spain have gone onto achieve a lot more success than the Red Dragons. They won the World Cup in 2010, with Andreas Iniesta scoring the winner against Holland in extra time – they also won the European Championships in both 2008 and 2012 in an historic period for Spanish football.
This game will no doubt give Wales excellent experience, especially given the world class players that Spain have within their disposal, and if they can put on a good display, it will give them huge confidence heading into their UEFA Nations League encounter against the Republic of Ireland on the 16th October.
This will also be the first time Wales have played at the Principality Stadium since losing 2-0 to the old enemy, England, in 2011.
Prediction: Wales 1-3 Spain
The Spanish should have just too much class and swagger for Wales going forward and can see them winning this international friendly 3-1.
Spain cruised to a 6-1 win over Croatia last month and Enrique’s men will want to build on that in Cardiff on Thursday evening.
I believe Wales will put up some sort of a fight but will probably come up short against a Spanish side which is stacked with talent all over the pitch.
Gareth Bale will miss the game with Spain on Thursday due to a groin injury after coming off injured in Real Madrid’s shock 1-0 away defeat to Alaves over the weekend.
Ethan Ampadu, who turned 18 just a couple of weeks ago could feature once again after showing his quality in Wales’ first ever UEFA Nations League game, as they comfortably beat Ireland 4-1 at the Cardiff City Stadium last month. Burnley’s Sam Vokes may lead the line for the Red Dragons.
Wolves’ on-loan star Jonny Otto could earn his first cap for Spain after being called-up by Enrique, with Paco Alcacer potentially leading the line after his scintillating start to the season for Bundesliga leaders, Borussia Dortmund.
1985: Wales 3-0 Spain
1984: Spain 3-0 Wales
1982: Spain 1-1 Wales
HIGHLIGHTS OF 1985 CLASH
(Featured image: Seth Whales)