Ryan Giggs is expecting a fierce Irish backlash when he takes his Wales team to Dublin for the third round of the UEFA Nations League to meet Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland side.
While Giggs was in dreamland after his home debut as manager turned into a 4-1 rout at Cardiff City Stadium last month, opposite number O’Neill had his head in his hands after the mauling.
Things didn’t go as well in Denmark the following week with a 2-0 defeat in Aarhus, but Giggs remains confident his side can repeat their heroics against the Irish in Dublin. They meet Spain next week at the Principality Stadium in a warm-up friendly that is set to attract a 50,000+ crowd.
The experienced Joe Ledley will be missing from the squad through injury, along with Bristol Rovers defender Tom Lockyer, but Giggs expects to have record goalscorer Gareth Bale back fully fit and firing for the trip across the Irish Sea on 16 October.
Bale notched his 29th goal for Wales in China to take over from Ian Rush as his nation’s top striker earlier this year and raised his tally to 30 goals in the 4-1 demolition job in Cardiff last month.
He is due to receive a commemorative Golden Boot from former record Wales scorer Ian Rush ahead of next week’s friendly against Spain at the Principality Stadium.
Giggs has already marked down the Spanish match as the least important of the two fixtures because there are points at stake in Ireland. But he knows what is coming at the Aviva.
“Martin said ‘congratulations, it was a brilliant performance’ after the game in Cardiff. That’s what I expected from him because of the respect I have for him,” said Giggs.
“But I expect a backlash in Dublin because when you get beaten you want to rectify it in the next game. It was a much better performance by them in their second game.
“They’ve got two home games in a row now and I’m sure they’ll be concentrating on Denmark before us. I expect a difficult game, just as I did in the first meeting, but if we play like we played in the first game we should be okay.”
Giggs admits he is concerned about having a high profiled friendly against former World Cup winners Spain ahead of his side’s trip across the Irish Sea and wants to get the balance right between the two fixtures. The Principality Stadium fixture will be high profile, but it is a competitive game in Dublin.
“The game against Spain will be fantastic for Gareth (Bale) because he plays there. He had a groin strain, but the scan has come back all clear and he should be available for Real Madrid this weekend,” added Giggs.
“I’m not worried about his clubmate Sergio Ramos giving him a tough time because I know Gareth can handle himself. It is a fantastic game to be involved in for him, but five days later we’ve got a League of Nations game in Dublin.
“There are points available in that one, so it’s about getting the balance right for the two games.”