Wales’s captain, Robert Page, said his side had beaten everyone in their group and that they were ready to surprise anyone in their World Cup campaign. “There’s been a lot of talk about our run in the previous World Cups,” he said. “To be honest, we’ve just sat here and had a go – and, no disrespect to any other group, we’ve got the luck of the draw. The ideal scenario would be to be in New Zealand or South Africa, and we just have to go there and show them that we’re a decent side.”
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There are no teams Wales have yet beaten at the World Cup but they have shown against several from qualifying groups that they are able to beat anyone, as the 1-0 win in Israel and a draw against Serbia showed in March.
“We had a good record against [Israel], which has perhaps surprised people,” Page said. “We just had to put our hand up and not take things for granted. We have to prove it in Russia.”
The host nation, Russia, must secure a win over Slovakia in Sochi on Thursday to maintain their progress in Group A. Qualification hopes for both teams hang in the balance; both teams’ goal differences are worse than only Luxembourg’s. Slovakia still have work to do, having drawn 0-0 with England at Wembley on Saturday, while it would seem implausible that England will fail to progress if they secure a win at home to Slovenia on Thursday.
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Even an unlikely victory by Slovakia will not be enough for England to qualify, but a win in Slovenia will put them within touching distance. The winner of Group F will go on to meet Sweden in a play-off for a play-off place.
The winner of Group G will face Uruguay, the side they have so often outclassed, in a play-off. So too will the winner of Group H between Italy and Spain, who both managed to record victories on Monday night.
If a third-placed finish from either Iceland or Austria on Thursday would be sufficient to qualify, Croatia would face Switzerland, either side of England and Sweden.