23 mins: Wales have a shot! It’s Wilson, from the free kick, but from wide on the right and a fair distance from goal it would have had to be a miracle shot to fly past De Gea, and it was not that. Instead, it looped over the bar.
22 mins: Ramos trips Wilson as the winger skips past him. It’s a free kick, and the referee runs to the scene with his yellow card out and then puts it away again without showing it at anyone.
21 mins: Wales can’t really be blamed for being outpassed by Spain tonight, but they should at least have set pieces vaguely sorted. But not so, it seems.
GOAL! Wales 0-2 Spain (Ramos, 19 mins)
Laughable defending. Morata, Albiol and Ramos are all free of markers at the far post as the ball comes in, and the latter does the honours and heads back across Hennessey and in.
19 mins: Morata is tripped by Gunter, and Spain have a free kick, just a little bit too far out to have a shot.
17 mins: Alcacer’s current form can reasonably be described as “piping hot”.
14 mins: Rodri is being man-marked when Spain have the ball, preventing him from being the bridge between defence and midfield, but allowing him to pull the Welsh midfield around in his wake like a mad puppeteer.
11 mins: Ramos feels Ampadu’s hot breath on his neck and goes over clutching his calf, in apparent agony. The referee blows his whistle (charitably) and he jumps straight up again. Spain will win this match easily enough without that kind of monkey business.
8 mins: It’s another left-footed right-wing cross from Suso, but this one dips scarily into the six-yard box. Hennessey comes out, pushes clear and runs into a Spaniard and the ball drops to Alcacer, who wallops it into the top corner!
GOAL! Wales 0-1 Spain (Alcacer, 8 mins)
This might be a long night for Wales.
6 mins: Hennessey is called into genuine action for the first time, as Morata tries to drill in a low cross but the goalkeeper cuts it out at the near post.
5 mins: An extremely long spell of unbroken Spanish possession ends with Suso hitting a left-footed cross from the right straight out of play.
4 mins: Wales have touched the ball several times in these opening exchanges. Well, a few times.
1 min: Loud cheers greet the first Spanish showboating error of the evening, as a fancy backheel flick sends the ball into touch.
The Principality Stadium is in fantastic voice for the Welsh anthem, though Giggs himself isn’t a very enthusiastic singer, preferring to half-heartedly mouth along.
The players are out! It looks like the two bottommost tiers of the stadium are pretty much full, though one entire side is more or less taken up with a wailingly enormous Welsh flag.
The players are in the tunnel! And so are quite a lot of random people in suits.
Does it not look like they lost half the panels for these balls and had to replace them with plain white ones at the last minute?
Ryan Giggs has a bit of a chat:
We’ve got a few players missing. Gareth is a special player, any team will miss him, but it gives a chance for others to step up. It is a special place, a special stadium right in the middle of the city, and a lot of players of course have never played here. I’ve told them to embrace it and enjoy it. We’re definitely going to have to play well. Individually, you look right through the team, they’re all at big clubs, they all play at the highest level, and a top coach as well. We’re up against it, but looking forward to the challenge.
If you’re younger than 33 you have not been alive for a game between Wales and Spain. These are historic times. When the teamslast met, in 1985, the Welsh won 3-0 thanks in part to an absolutely classic defensive mix-up:
The referee is England’s own Anthony Taylor, who will be assisted by Stephen Child and Gary Beswick, with Iwan Arwel Griffith, who as his name suggests is Welsh, the fourth official.
Twenty years and a couple of weeks ago, Ryan Giggs and Luis Enrique went head to head on the pitch in the Champions League, they both scored and neither lost. I can’t find our match report, but Paul Wilson was there and wrote this about it:
Obviously the moment I write that we get a whisper from the Welsh. Their team, not yet confirmed, is apparently thus: Hennessey; Gunter, Williams, Davies; Roberts, Allen, Ampadu, John; Wilson, Ramsey; Vokes.
So, Wales v Spain! Birthplace and current home of Gareth Bale go head to head in a match of immense personal significance for the … er … hang on … no way … oh. Gareth Bale is injured. He has, we’re told, “muscle fatigue” and will be limited to a dressing-room-and-bench-only tubthumping role, tiptoeing onto the pitch only for the pre-match presentation of a souvenir golden boot to mark his recently-earned status as Wales’s greatest ever goalscorer. “I’m not worried about Gareth and he’s not worried. We’ll take no chances,” says Ryan Giggs.
Spain meanwhile are expected to leave some of their most famous names on the bench. “He who takes advantage of his opportunity and does well in training will have minutes,” said Luis Enrique, cryptically.
In other news, the game will be the first played by Wales at the Principality Stadium since England’s visit in 2011, and though it won’t be full it won’t be empty either, so that’s a bonus. Spain’s players will wear black armbands, and the match will be prefaced with a minute’s silence, in honour of the victims of this week’s floods in Mallorca. The roof will be closed, as requested by Giggs who wants to maximise the atmosphere, and minimise the chance of the forecast wild rainfall – which isn’t expected to hit Cardiff until the early hours of tomorrow morning – arriving early and ruining everything.
Anyway, and more importantly, here’s an update on Ethan Ampadu’s increasingly unruly dreadlocks: