It’s been a long 64 years, but Wales are back at the Fifa World Cup. Robert Page’s side qualified for Qatar 2022 via the play-offs and they will be looking to emulate the “class of 58”, who reached the quarter-finals.
Wales’s opening World Cup game against the United States on Monday evening could decide one of group B’s two qualifiers, said Kyle Bonn on SportingNews.com. It’s “rare” that such a “vital” match is played this early in the tournament, but with Wales and the US expected to “duke it out” behind group favourites England, “there’s a tense feel about this contest”.
The Dragons may have “defied expectations” to reach the World Cup, said Gavin Beech on WalesOnline. But that doesn’t mean “they can’t make an impact” in Qatar. Should Page’s men pick up three points against the US, then they “might only need one more point” to earn qualification for the knockout stages.
The US, who last qualified for the World Cup in 2014, have the slight upper hand from their previous meetings with Wales. Both friendlies, the teams drew 0-0 in November 2020, but the US won 1-0 in May 2003. Wales and the US are in group B with England and Iran.
Match facts Who: USA vs. WalesWhat: Fifa World Cup group B matchday oneWhen: Monday 21 November 2022Where: Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Ar-Rayyan Kick-off time: 7pm (all times GMT)How to watch on TV in the UKThe USA vs. Wales clash will be shown live free-to-air in the UK on ITV and ITVX, with coverage beginning at 6.05pm. Welsh-language channel S4C is also showing all Wales games, with coverage from 6pm.
The stadium Inspired by the sand dunes, you’ll find Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on the edge of the desert in Ar-Rayyan, west of Doha. The 40,000-capacity venue will host seven World Cup matches, six in the group stage and one round of 16 tie.
Team news The US look to be entering the match with a “rare clean bill of health”, said Jake Nisse in the Daily Mail. Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie will all look to “leave their mark” in their first World Cup appearances. Midfielder Luca de la Torre is one of the main doubts for the US. He sustained a hamstring injury playing for Spanish club Celta Vigo in late October.
For Wales, star man and captain Gareth Bale has not played much recently for his club team, Los Angeles FC, but can “still conjure up world-class ability in big moments”. Robert Page will definitely be without midfielder Joe Allen, who has not played since September because of a hamstring injury.
Possible starting XIsUSAMatt Turner; Sergino Dest, Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, Antonee Robinson; Yunus Musah, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie; Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Brenden Aaronson
WalesWayne Hennessey; Chris Mepham, Joe Rodon, Ben Davies, Connor Roberts; Ethan Ampadu, Aaron Ramsey, Neco Williams; Brennan Johnson, Gareth Bale, Daniel James
Squads United States Head coach: Gregg BerhalterKey player: Christian PulisicOne to watch: Sergino DestGoalkeepers: Ethan Horvath (Luton), Sean Johnson (New York City), Matt Turner (Arsenal)Defenders: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic), Sergino Dest (AC Milan), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Shaq Moore (Nashville), Tim Ream (Fulham), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson (Leeds), Kellyn Acosta (Los Angeles), Tyler Adams (Leeds), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle)Forwards: Jesus Ferreira (Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Josh Sargent (Norwich), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyspor)Wales Head coach: Robert PageKey player: Gareth BaleOne to watch: Brennan JohnsonGoalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Nottingham Forest), Danny Ward (Leicester City), Adam Davies (Stoke City)Defenders: Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest), Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur), Ben Cabango (Swansea City), Joe Rodon (Rennes, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Ethan Ampadu (Spezia, on loan from Chelsea), Chris Gunter (AFC Wimbledon), Connor Roberts (Burnley), Tom Lockyer (Luton Town)Midfielders: Aaron Ramsey (Nice), Joe Allen (Swansea City), Harry Wilson (Fulham), Joe Morrell (Portsmouth), Dylan Levitt (Dundee United), Rubin Colwill (Cardiff City), Jonny Williams (Swindon Town), Matthew Smith (Milton Keynes Dons), Sorba Thomas (Huddersfield Town)Forwards: Gareth Bale (Los Angeles FC), Dan James (Fulham, on loan from Leeds United), Kieffer Moore (Bournemouth), Mark Harris (Cardiff City), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest)PredictionsMonday’s clash promises to be “one of the most intriguing” of the opening round of matches, said Marc Mayo in the London Evening Standard. The US are one of the teams heading into the tournament “without a huge amount of positive energy”, something which the Welsh team can tend to “almost exclusively trade on”. Still, a “nervy and edgy” affair is most likely to start both teams’s campaign. Prediction: USA 1 Wales 1.
With England favourites to win the group, the “fight for second place” could be “extremely close”, said Andrew Delaney on SportsMole. Neither side “can afford to lose this crunch opener” and both the US and Wales have become “heavily reliant on a few certain individuals to get them goals”. This could mean “one piece of brilliance may be what decides the outcome”. Prediction: USA 1 Wales 1
It’s “hard to see a winner” in this match, said Kyle Bonn on SportingNews.com. But there “does appear to be goals in this game”. I would “lean slightly towards” the United States if forced to pick a winner. Prediction: USA 2 Wales 2.
A draw may not be the World Cup return that “either team are dreaming of”, said Ned Holmes on RadioTimes.com. But it will do their hopes of making the knockout stages “no harm at all”. Prediction: USA 1 Wales 1.
Group B fixturesMonday 21 NovemberEngland vs. Iran (Khalifa International Stadium; 1pm; BBC)USA vs. Wales (Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium; 7pm; ITV/S4C)Friday 25 NovemberWales vs. Iran (Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium; 10am; BBC/S4C) England vs. USA (Al Bayt Stadium; 7pm; ITV)Tuesday 29 NovemberWales vs. England (Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium; 7pm; BBC/S4C)Iran vs. USA (Al Thumama Stadium; 7pm; BBC)