“We are ready.” Gareth Bale is setting his sights on top spot in Wales’ European qualifiers

Bale European qualifiers presser

by Adam Evans

GARETH Bale has made it clear that Wales are targeting top spot in Group E as they kick off their European qualifying campaign.

Bale said he and his team-mates are ready for the visit of Slovakia to the Cardiff City Stadium tomorrow.

“We’re going for top spot. I don’t know why we wouldn’t,” said Bale, dismissing talk that the bookies have World Cup finalists Croatia as group favourites.

“We’re always the underdogs so the bookies aren’t always right. We’re going into this qualifying campaign looking to win the group.”

Bale completed 90 minutes for Real Madrid last weekend, but was rested for Wales’ friendly with Trinidad and Tobago at the Racecourse on Wednesday. He won the Football Association of Wales Players’ Player of the Year Award on Thursday.

Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey was confirmed as unavailable due to a thigh injury and Ethan Ampadu and Tom Lawrence are also out, but the Real Madrid forward is still optimistic.

“Missing players is a part and parcel of football. It just gives someone else an opportunity to step in and do a good job,” said Bale.

Much like the boss, Ryan Giggs, Bale highlighted the preparation for tomorrow’s encounter.

“We are all ready, we are all prepared and we are ready to give everything on the pitch for the jersey. We will do all we can.”

The 29 year old used the memories of Euro 2016 as a tool to fuel his determination to qualify for Euro 2020.

“We have watched videos of the last qualifying campaign just to relive what it was like.

“We know it’s a hard group and it’s always difficult to qualify for major tournaments,” he added.

“We want to be playing at the major tournaments and experience what we’ve been through. We need to produce again; we need to work hard and keep playing the way we do.”

The campaign has already started for Slovakia, who beat Hungary 2-0 at home on Thursday. Bookies favourites Croatia overcame Azerbaijan 2-1.

Wales’ opening Euro 2020 qualifier versus Slovakia kicks off at 14:00 tomorrow at the Cardiff City Stadium.