A look at the Key Players for Wales at the 2022 World Cup
For the first time in 64 years, Wales is at the World Cup. It sounds strange to say. Even after their fairy-tale journeys in the European Championships, making it to the final stages of football’s biggest international tournament is what every Welsh fan dreams about. Despite so many setbacks, they finally made it.
When Gareth Bale’s strike flew in past Ukraine’s Heorhiy Bushchan, it was official. It took 34 minutes but Wales finally breached the goal and showed resilience worthy of a place in Qatar for the first-ever winter World Cup. In unfamiliar conditions, Rob Page has it all to do, but with a chance of making it out of the group stage, the unpredictability of international football could make them a dark horse — or dragon.
Indeed, Wales find themselves in a winnable group alongside Iran, the United States, and England, who narrowly beat them in the dying embers of their Euro 2016 clash. It’s a new-look side to the one that crumbled to Daniel Sturridge’s late winner, with an emphasis on defensive stability ensuring they conceded just nine goals throughout qualifying. The page will need all of his players to chip in should they make it to the round of 16, and with that in mind, read on as we look at the most important players for Wales at the Qatar World Cup.
A cult hero to most Wales fans, Ben Davies has been a rock at the back for his country for almost a decade now, and moving into center-back will be key to his side maintaining their defensive resilience in the Middle East. Page often plays with a back three and with Davies, primarily a left-back- in the center, his job is to carry the ball further up the pitch, especially against Iran and the USA.
However, his role against England will be keeping out Tottenham Hotspur teammate Harry Kane, with the Three Lions leading the bet on Wales v England odds for their match on 29 November. He’ll need to be the senior man to ensure Wales keeps clean sheets.
The shining jewel in the Welsh crown, Gareth Bale is the most decorated player in his country’s history. The five-time Champions League winner left Real Madrid this summer and in the twilight of his career, joined MLS side Los Angeles FC in order to maintain his fitness ahead of the World Cup.
An outcast in the Spanish capital, it is completely the opposite for Cymru, with the 33-year-old idolized by even his teammates. Injuries have taken their toll, and Bale’s game time has reduced significantly since the Euros. This is likely to be his last international tournament, but with over 100 caps and 40 goals, he will want to bow out with one more mesmerizing performance before hanging up the boots.
Many would have expected to see Aaron Ramsey on this list, but the OG Nice midfielder has cut a figure of inconsistency in Ligue 1 this season, and having missed the friendlies in September with an injury, Bournemouth’s Kieffer Moore is appearing to be more of a dangerous man. That’s not to suggest he’s a more talented player — in fact, Moore knows his technical limitations but his physical presence is what gives Page’s Wales a different dimension.
International football won’t be used to the physicality Moore offers, with his belt and braces approach to a traditional center-forward returning goals and assists throughout qualifying. He is a nuisance to play against and will cause defenders trouble in Qatar, even if his own goalscoring is sporadic.