Finland v Wales: Pukki party to restart on home soil

Wales kick-off their League B Nations League campaign in Finland this week, but Paul Robinson isn't expecting a fruitful trip for Ryan Giggs' side...

Finland v Wales
Thursday 3 September, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

An exciting 12 months for Finland

Finland begin their Nations League campaign hoping to resume in the kind of form that they showed during their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign. Markku Kanerva led them to their first major tournament in their history, with Teemu Pukki scoring 10 goals during qualifying.

They finished second in a group that contained the likes of Italy, Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina - winning six of their 10 fixtures. They still have that tournament to look forward to, and they will likely be using this competition as a decent warm-up.

As well as Pukki, Finland have Bayer Leverkusen's Lukas Hradecky in their squad, so they are far from a one-man team, and it will be interesting to see if the former can put his poor club form behind him and take inspiration from wearing the shirt of his country.

Wales aiming to put Euro disappointment behind them

The Welsh missed out on Euro 2020, as while they too came second in their group, they had the lowest points total of all of the runners-up, which meant that they missed out on the Play-offs.

Ryan Giggs has a talented squad at his disposal, which is a mixture of youth and experience, but he is without Aaron Ramsey, David Brooks, Neil Taylor and Sam Vokes for their trip to Helsinki.

Gareth Bale is available though, and he is sure to be fresh having featured very little for Real Madrid. Despite his lack of game-time, he has always been able to turn it on for his country, and Wales' hopes almost rest squarely on his shoulders.

Outsiders offer value in match-odds

It is the visitors who are the favourites for this fixture, which is a slight surprise for me. They are trading at around the 2.46 mark on the Betfair Exchange, with the hosts at 3.40 and the draw at 3.25.

Only Italy have beaten Finland on their home soil lately, with their previous defeat coming back in June 2017 against Ukraine. Since then they have won 11 of 14 - including victories over Greece and Iceland.

Wales, meanwhile, do not possess the greatest of away records, as during Euro qualifying, they were beaten in Croatia and Hungary, and could only draw against Slovakia. They have also been beaten in Albania and Denmark in the last couple of years.

Not much juice in the Goals markets

The market has it about right when it comes to goals. Under 2.5 is the short-priced favourite at 1.60, while Over 2.5 backers can get 2.54 if they want it.

It definitely feels like a potential low-scoring affair, and the stats do mostly back that up. The Welsh are currently on a run of five matches to end with two goals or fewer, and while the Fins have seen their last five all go Over, they don't concede too many goals on their own patch.

If I was forced to have a bet I would play it safe with Under 2.5, but none of us have to play, and I am more than happy to stick with the home win at much bigger odds.

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