2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Wales
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is less than a month away from kicking off in Qatar. Over the next 32 days, I will be previewing each team that will be taking part in the world’s most-watched event. Check out all of the team previews that have been done so far. Up next is Wales.
The third oldest national team in world soccer is Wales, and they will be returning to the World Cup for the first time in 64 years. “The Dragons” were one of the final teams to qualify for the 2022 World Cup and did so by beating Ukraine 1-0 on June 5 in the UEFA playoff final. The expectations for the Welsh team are not overly high after a Round of 16 loss at the 2020 European Championships, but even more so after going winless in five matches since qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. Wales is the No. 19 ranked team in the FIFA men’s rankings, the second lowest in Group B.
World Cup Appearances
As mentioned above, this will be the first World Cup appearance for “The Dragons” in 64 years. I am not even sure that anyone working for Vendetta can say they were alive when that happened in 1958. The 1958 World Cup was the first for Wales and now they will have two appearances once they get to Qatar.
Best Finish at a World Cup
With only one previous World Cup appearance, reaching the quarterfinals at the 1958 World Cup was the best finish for Wales. In that World Cup, Wales drew all three group-stage matches and needed to beat Hungary in a playoff to advance to the quarterfinals. Unfortunately for “The Dragons” they faced Brazil and Pele in the first knockout stage and lost 1-0 thanks to a goal from the true GOAT.
The player that always seems to step up when playing for Wales is Gareth Bale. The captain leads his nation in career goals with 40 and has the second most caps for Wales with 108, just behind current teammate Chris Gunter who has 109 caps. The third most capped player for Wales is also on the current team in starting goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, with 106 caps. Despite the experience and play of Hennessey, Gunter, and Aaron Ramsey this team only goes as far as Bale can take them. The last two wins for “The Dragons” came when Bale scored, while only once in 2022 has he scored and not won the match. That came against the Netherlands and Bale scored an equalizer in the 90’+2 but Wales blew it less than a minute later.
Former Welsh international player Rob Page has been the manager for Wales since November 2020. Before becoming a manager, Page made 41 appearances for Wales from 1996 to 2005 and played for Watford and Sheffield United before bouncing around four other teams. Since taking charge of “The Dragons” Page has had a record of 10-9-9. He managed the U21 Welsh team as well as Port Vale and Northampton Town in England.
Biggest Group Game – vs. England on Nov. 29
Wales and England have been rivals from what seems like the dawn of time. The neighboring countries make up two-thirds of the United Kingdom and that rivalry will add a new chapter at the 2022 World Cup. There is no other team that “The Dragons” want to beat as badly as England and it has been quite a while since that has happened. The last time Wales beat England was in 1984 winning 1-0. The two nations have met 102 times with England winning 67 times and Wales just 14. There is far more on the line than just three points in Group B.
Wales should be confident in getting out of the group stage at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Group B with England, Iran, and the United States. Bale is going to pop off in his first World Cup appearance and lead “The Dragons” to a second-place finish in the group and advance to the knockout stage. But all likelihood that would set them up against the Netherlands and Wales will not have the power to match up with a strong Dutch side. I have Wales losing in the Round of 16 in their first World Cup in over 60 years.
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