Soccer

What happens next for Wales as they look to book a place at Euro 2024?

Wales must navigate the play-offs in March to reach the European Championship finals next summer.

If they do so, it will be Wales’ fourth major tournament out of the last five.

Here, the PA news agency looks at their Euro 2024 story so far and what happens next.

How did Wales get here?

Wales v Croatia – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – Group D – Cardiff City Stadium
Wales v Croatia – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – Group D – Cardiff City Stadium Harry Wilson (right) scores in the 2-1 home win over Croatia, the high point of Wales’ Euro 2024 qualifying campaign (Tim Goode/PA)

It has been a campaign of transition without talismanic captain Gareth Bale following his retirement in January and the loss of other key players such as midfielder Joe Allen.

Wales began well with a bonus point away to World Cup semi-finalists Croatia – courtesy of Nathan Broadhead’s stoppage-time equaliser – and a narrow home win over Latvia.

But a sour summer – back-to-beat defeats against Armenia and Turkey – would cost them dear, despite bouncing back with a 2-0 success in Latvia and a sensational 2-1 home victory over Croatia.

Wales had automatic qualification in their hands heading into the final two games, but ultimately fell short with closing 1-1 draws against Armenia and Turkey. Croatia and Turkey qualified as the top two in Group D.

Play-off scenario

Wales v Turkey – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – Group D – Cardiff City Stadium
Wales v Turkey – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – Group D – Cardiff City Stadium Wales manager Rob Page will attend the Euro 2024 play-off draw on Thursday (Joe Giddens/PA)

Wales will discover at 11am on Thursday morning who their semi-final opponents will be on March 21.

Manager Rob Page will attend the draw in Switzerland to get a flavour of what stands in his side’s way.

It is a case of one from three countries as Finland, Iceland or Ukraine will be paired with Wales in Path A.

The winners of that tie will play Poland or Estonia in the play-off final on March 26 for the right to play at Euro 2024.

Home sweet home

Wales v Croatia – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – Group D – Cardiff City Stadium
Wales v Croatia – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – Group D – Cardiff City Stadium Wales hope the so-called ‘Red Wall’ can roar them on to more success in the Euro 2024 play-offs (Nick Potts/PA)

Wales will have home advantage for the semi-final, which will be played at Cardiff City Stadium.

That is a huge boost for Wales who have had some special nights in Cardiff in recent times, and beat both Austria and Ukraine there in the 2022 World Cup play-offs.

The Nyon draw on Thursday will also decide who gets home advantage for the March 26 final.

Wales got the breaks in the 2022 World Cup play-offs with two home ties. Will they be as fortunate again?

Who do Wales want?

Wales v Ukraine – FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifier – Play Off – Final – Cardiff City Stadium
Wales v Ukraine – FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifier – Play Off – Final – Cardiff City Stadium Wales could meet Ukraine again in the Euro 2024 play-offs after beating them to reach the 2022 World Cup (David Davies/PA)

Ukraine are 22nd in the FIFA rankings, six places above Wales, and present the toughest test on paper.

They were third in England’s qualifying group and might already be preparing for Germany had they been awarded what appeared a certain stoppage-time penalty against Italy on Monday.

Finland won six of their 10 qualifiers and finished four points behind Denmark and Slovenia, while Iceland won only three times in 10 games and were a distant fourth to Portugal, Slovakia and Luxembourg.

Whoever they play, Wales enter the play-offs with confidence after an unbeaten six-game run of three wins and three draws.