Wales must take maximum points from their two upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers if they are to jump above Hungary into second place in their group.
Ryan Giggs’ task starts with what could be a tricky trip to Azerbaijan. Wales have never lost to Group E’s bottom side, but they only managed to beat them 2-1 in September.
As a result, a much-improved performance may be needed if Giggs’ men are to get a result in Azerbaijan before they host Hungary in a crunch game next week.
Read on for our preview, predictions, key men, TV info, team news and more.
When is Azerbaijan vs Wales and where can I watch live?
Competition: Euro 2020 Qualifiers
Venue: Bakcell Arena
Date: Saturday, 16 November 2019
Kick-off: 5:00 PM (UK time)
TV coverage (UK): Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football
Last five meetings: Azerbaijan vs Wales
06 September 2019: Wales 2-1 Azerbaijan (European Championship Qualifiers)
06 June 2009: Azerbaijan 0-1 Wales (World Cup Qualifiers)
06 September 2008: Wales 1-0 Azerbaijan (World Cup Qualifiers)
12 October 2005: Wales 2-0 Azerbaijan (World Cup Qualifiers)
04 September 2004: Azerbaijan 1-1 Wales (World Cup Qualifiers)
Aggregate Score: Azerbaijan (LLLLD) 2-7 Wales (WWWWD)
Ones to watch
Azerbaijan: Agabala Ramazanov
Having twice won the Azerbaijani top-flight with Europa League mainstays Qarabag, Ramazanov is now turning out for another club in his homeland, FK Sabail. The striker has been among the goals domestically this season, and now he’ll be hoping he can finally translate his club form to the international stage.
Ramazanov is yet to score for Azerbaijan – will Wales give him the chance to break his international duck this weekend?
Key stat: Ramazanov has scored six goals and provided two assists in 13 appearances for Sabail across all competitions this season.
Wales: Gareth Bale
Bale scored an 84th-minute winner in the reverse fixture, rescuing his country as he has so often done in the past. Despite struggling with an injury and for minutes at Real Madrid in recent weeks, Wales’ talisman is expected to play a part on Saturday.
If Azerbaijan play for a point, Bale’s long-range ability could be crucial. He will be particularly determined to take advantage of set-pieces, whether that’s striking direct free-kicks or getting his head on crosses.
Key stat: Bale has scored 11 goals in his last 18 starts for Wales across all competitions.
Azerbaijan coach Nikola Jurčević has picked an almost identical squad to the last international break, so we could see a similar line-up to the one that lost 1-0 at Hungary last time out.
Predicted XI: Balayev; Pasayev, Mustafazade, B Huseynov, Rehimov; Israfilov, Qarayev, Almeyda; Ramazanov, Seydayev, Xelilzade.
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Bale is expected to play despite nursing an injury, but Joe Allen is suspended.
Aaron Ramsey and Chris Mepham return after missing the last break through injury. Joe Rodon, Jonny Williams and David Brooks are the notable absentees this time around.
Predicted XI: Hennessey; C Roberts, Lockyer, A. Williams, B Davies; Ampadu; Bale, Ramsey, Morrell, James; Moore.
It’s sure to be an edgy contest, but Wales will be determined to make it attack against defence from the off. If the likes of Bale and Ramsey are on song, the visitors shouldn’t have too many problems. But it could be a close one, just like the reverse fixture.
Scoreline prediction: Azerbaijan 0-1 Wales