USA – Wales: World Cup Match Preview
By Dan King under the supervision of Lucas Mondelo
Wales travels to Qatar full of excitement as they prepare to compete in their first World Cup since 1958.
The Welsh may lack history on this stage, but they aren’t just content with being here, the aim is to progress into the knockout stages. If the competition was judged on team spirit and togetherness, Wales would surely be among the favourites.
Gareth Bale is no longer at his peak but for his country, he is still hailed as their most important player and never holds anything back in his efforts. Bale declared himself 100% fit and ready, likely to begin on the left flank with Dan James and Kieffer Moore contesting the striker spot.
The only worry for the manager Rob Page is their important and experienced midfielder, Joe Allen. The veteran has been wrapped in cotton wool due to hamstring issues. Although not considered 100% ready, Page could risk the hard-working centre midfielder for this vital game.
On the back of their failure to make 2018 in Russia, the USA are extra focused and keen to make the 2022 World Cup a competition to remember.
There is a widespread view both in the States and abroad that there is something of a golden generation of players at the manager’s disposal. However, confidence and hopes have diminished slightly after dismissal performances against Japan and Saudi Arabia in the last international break.
USA boss Gregg Berhalter has vowed to get the best from this group of players, and he aims to have them controlling games through dominating possession.
Of the squad which travelled to Qatar, there are concerns and question marks over who begins at centre-back alongside Walker Zimmerman. His established partner Miles Robins was ruled out for the season and next best options Richards and Cameron Carter Vickers were both hit by injury in September. This means Berhalter will need to use vital group games to experiment in this crucial position.
Wales are slight favourites on the 1×2 market, priced at 2.60 to get what would be a win of massive importance. The USA are slight outsiders at 3.00, while a draw would keep both alive in the group at 2.950.
With a draw voiding bets, the Asian market (DNB) reflects the fact punters cannot separate these two nations. Wales -0 are minor favourites given the draw as a cushion, priced at 1.780. Followers of the USA -0 would be rewarded odds against (2.070) if the States got the 3 points.
The Total goals line is set extremely low at 2. This makes sense given that while both nations feel like a win would be a major step into the knockouts, a loss would be a disaster.
With that mutual fear of losing and this being the first match of the group, a very tight contest is expected. Over 2 goals would pay at 1.920 and zero or one goal is priced at 1.870. a 1-1 or 2-0 to either side would return the full stake.