Gemma Grainger Insists Wales Can Defy the Rankings in Germany

The Welsh football weekend begins on Friday night in the small German town of Sinsheim, where Wales manager Gemma Grainger believes her team can overcome a faltering start to their Nations League campaign.


Germany are ranked the sixth best women’s team in the world – 23 places higher than Wales.


And Grainger’s team will start their Friday night clash on the back of an unpromising beginning to their Group A3 quest, too.


They lost both of their opening matches – to Iceland and Denmark in December – but Grainger insists they can make up for lost ground at a sold-out PreZeroArena.


“We’ve reviewed the Iceland and Denmark games, and I believe we can compete against any team if we deliver the game plan and every player is doing their job,” says Grainger.


“I’ve seen it in the France game at home and the US game out of season.”


Wales lost both those matches 2-1 to France in a 2023 Women’s World Cup qualifier and 2-0 to then world champions the United States in a California friendly in July – but Grainger believes the close nature of those contests shows her squad are heading in the right direction.


“Of course we want to win games, but we’ve got to stay really focused on the journey,” she adds.


“The Iceland game in terms of performance was one of our best, if not our best, since I’ve been in place.


“We dominated possession and chances but what we didn’t do was get a goal and one set-play cost us.


“That showed us it is about fine margins, but we’ve got to keep exposing these players to experiences that help them qualify for a European Championship.”


Leicester forward Hannah Cain returns for Wales after missing the start of the competition through injury, just nine months after recovering from a serious knee problem that kept her out of action for over a year.


But Rangers midfielder Rachel Rowe will not play any part against Germany and Denmark after picking up what Grainger described as a “small injury”.


On Saturday, it’s a case of reacting to contrasting midweek fortunes for Wales’ two men’s teams in the Championship.


While Cardiff City enjoyed a thumping 4-0 win away at Huddersfield Town, Swansea City went down to a 1-0 defeat at home to Watford.


That was a second successive defeat for the Swans, an abrupt end to their four game winning streak, and now they must bid to stop it becoming an unwanted hat-trick of losses away at Blackburn Rovers.


They could be boosted, though, by the return of Wales defender Ben Cabango, who has now recovered from a hamstring injury.


Cardiff’s midweek victory kept them among the Championship play-off contenders and they can make it six wins in 10 matches if they overcome Bristol City at home in the Severnside derby.


The Bluebirds have already won one derby match this season, against the Swans, and manager Erol Bulut says: “To win two derbies and to bring something back to the fans, would be fantastic.


“I think there will be 25,000, maybe more, in the stadium, so we want to give our fans something back for how they support us. This will be the thank you for them, with three points, I hope.”


Wrexham are now unbeaten in six matches in League Two and have an intriguing fixture away at Notts County – the club that came up alongside Wrexham from the National League last season.


County have adapted to League Two even better than Wrexham and are currently second in the table, three points and one place ahead of Wrexham.


Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson says: “There’s a mutual respect between both clubs and both teams because we went toe-to-toe last season.


“I think we put the National League on the map. But we go to Meadow Lane full of confidence. We’re going to go to have a real go at them.”


Newport County need to have a similar outlook if they are to end a slump that has seen them suffer six defeats in their last 10 games.


County travel to seventh-placed Gillingham on Saturday and manager Graham Coughlan sounds like a man who understands what may happen if their decline continues for too long.


“The players need to step up to the plate and take responsibility because I’m not daft, I know the rules of football. I know the rules of management,” said Coughlan.