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World Cup: Wales team profile

Wales reached only the second World Cup in their history in dramatic fashion earlier this year and will be hoping to have a major say in Qatar.

After their heroic run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, Gareth Bale and co have continued to confound expectations and, at 150/1 in the outright market, will be happy to again play the underdog role.

WhatWorld Cup
WhereQatar
When20th November - 18th December 2022
How to watchAll matches will be shown on either the BBC or ITV
OddsBrazil 9/2, England 11/2, France 6/1, Argentina 7/1, Spain 8/1

What is Wales' World Cup record?

Wales have only reached the World Cup finals once before, in 1958. Led by talisman and star forward John Charles, the Dragons drew all three of their group games in Sweden, which saw them tie with Hungary in a group containing the hosts, the Hungarians and Mexico.

There was then a play-off to decide who progressed to the quarter-finals, between Wales and Hungary, which finished 2-1 to the Dragons.

Wales then took on eventual winners Brazil in the last eight and were beaten 1-0. Pele, then just 17, scored the only goal of the game, with the absence of Charles a huge factor in the final outcome.

PositionYear
Quarter-finals1958

How did Wales qualify?

Wales finished second behind Belgium in their World Cup qualification group, winning four, drawing three and losing one of their group games in a section that included the aforementioned pair, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Belarus.

That second-placed finish secured the Dragons' passage to the play-offs, where they took on Austria in the semi-finals in Cardiff. Bale's brace of goals proved to be enough to take his side to the final, where they faced Ukraine, despite Austria netting a consolation goal.

In the final, which was a cagey affair, Ukraine dominated possession but Wales posed a persistent threat on the counter-attack. Rob Page's side took the lead through a Bale free-kick in the first half and defended for much of the second period to secure their passage through to their first World Cup since 1958.

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Who is in Wales' group?

Wales have landed a familiar foe in their group, England. The Dragons faced the Three Lions in the group stage of Euro 2016 with Bale's free-kick cancelled out by a Jamie Vardy goal and a late Daniel Sturridge winner.

However, Wales would go on to have the last laugh, progressing to the tournament's semi-final while their rivals departed in the round of 16 after being beaten by Iceland.

In Qatar, the pair will face the United States, who the Dragons are 15/8 to beat when they open up their campaign on 21st November and Iran, who Page's men will face four days later.

Who is Wales' manager?

Page is a former Wales defender who made 41 appearances for his country before retiring as a player in 2011.

The 48-year-old had stints in charge of Port Vale, Northampton Town and the Wales Under-21 side before he took over as caretaker manager of the national team in 2020.

Page has been praised for his integration of youth players into the set-up, while also retaining the experienced core that was so successful in 2016.

Who is Wales' star player?

It's hard to make a case for anyone else being Wales' best footballer of all time than Bale. Their talisman throughout his career, the 33-year-old is the record goalscorer for his nation, netting 40 times in 106 games.

Bale also has a habit of scoring crucial goals for his country, netting three times in their run at Euro 2016 and scoring the winners in both the World Cup play-off games this time around.

There had been speculation that the former Tottenham and Real Madrid man would retire if his country failed to qualify for the World Cup but those rumours were put to bed following their qualification and the forward signed a deal with MLS side Los Angeles FC.

Who could be Wales' breakout star?

Wales have a considerable number of young players that look ready to make a big impact at this year's World Cup and, with Page's experience with the Under-21 side, he has shown he is not afraid to give the youngsters the chance to shine.

Brennan Johnson is just 21 but has already starred for his nation 13 times, scoring twice. The youngster was Nottingham Forest's standout player in their run to promotion from the Championship last season, scoring 16 goals.

The forward is a key component of Steve Cooper's side and is gaining valuable Premier League experience in the lead-up to Qatar.

Johnson has already forced his way into the thoughts of Page and looks likely to remain there and vye for selection against the United States if he continues on his upward curve.

What is Wales' predicted line-up and tactics?

Predicted line-up (3-4-3): Danny Ward; Ethan Ampadu, Joe Rodon, Ben Davies; Connor Roberts, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen, Jonny Williams; Gareth Bale, Kieffer Moore, Daniel James.

Wales have played a variety of systems under Page but it seems likely that they will set up similarly to how they did in their crucial play-off against Ukraine with three at the back and a reliance on their wing-backs for width.

Bale can play centrally, with Johnson playing off the left if the direct approach of Kieffer Moore does not work out.

How far can Wales go in Qatar?

Wales have overachieved in recent years, reaching the semi-final of Euro 2016 before getting out of their group at Euro 2020.

That seems a reasonable aim again in Qatar given the fact that Iran and the United States could prove beatable in their group games.

It is hard to write off the Dragons with their talisman Bale leading them into the tournament, particularly as this is likely to be his last major tournament.

Wales can be backed at 11/10 to qualify from their group, which may be of interest.

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