Rob Page needs a win – Latvia v Wales talking points
Wales aim to keep their Euro 2024 qualification hopes against Latvia on Monday.
The Dragons have ground to make up in Group D after suffering June defeats to Armenia and Turkey.
Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points surrounding the clash at Riga’s Skonto Stadium.
Page under pressure
How Rob Page could do with a win. Wales’ woeful run of one victory in 13 games – against Latvia in March – has piled the pressure on the manager. Page signed a four-year contract only 12 months ago but many fans have turned on the man who guided Wales to their first World Cup for 64 years. There were some positive signs in Thursday’s goalless friendly draw against South Korea, but Page knows that getting Wales’ Euro 2024 campaign back on track by beating Latvia is a must.
With record scorer Gareth Bale’s exploits firmly in the history books, it is time for Brennan Johnson to take the mantle of being Wales’ main man. Johnson may only be 22, but his £47.5million move from Nottingham Forest to Tottenham has elevated him to another level. His last international goal came over a year ago in June 2022 and Johnson has to start scoring regularly if Wales are to prosper post-Bale.
State of play
That disastrous June double-header has left Wales with a mountain to climb for a top-two spot and automatic qualification. But all is not lost after Friday’s results, which fell kindly for Wales. Group favourites Croatia thrashed Latvia 5-0 to damage Monday’s opponents, while Turkey and Armenia drew 1-1. Wales would draw level on points with Armenia if they win in Latvia and Croatia do likewise in Yerevan – and move within three points of Turkey with a game in hand.
Jordan James made his first Wales start against South Korea and was one of the stand-out players on the night. The 19-year-old midfielder came through the same Birmingham academy as England international Jude Bellingham and also appears to have a bright future ahead of him. James’ passing and pressing offers balance to a Wales midfield that has often been overrun in the past year – but is it too early to throw him into a must-win qualifier?
Wales can take heart from their record against Latvia – played two, won two. The two nations first met in a Riga friendly in August 2004, which Wales won 2-0. Both goals came in the final 10 minutes through John Hartson and Craig Bellamy. Wales beat Latvia 1-0 in their Euro 2024 qualifier in Cardiff six months ago. Kieffer Moore’s towering 41st-minute header secured Wales’ win on a night when Bale was given a pre-match guard of honour as he said goodbye to the home supporters.