Rob Page’s Wales Looking Forward to Rare Appearance on the Biggest Stage

Wales take part in a training session at the 2022 World Cup

Wales’ lion-hearted spirit has been more precisely cultivated in the last decade or so. The sorely missed Gary Speed set them on their way and Rob Page is the next man up with the baton. This will be only the second time that the Welsh will feature on the grandest stage, the first coming back in 1958 under the stewardship of Jimmy Murphy.

Wales Looking Forward to Rare World Cup Showing

Wales Key Player

For a number of countries going to Qatar, there is a debate to be had regarding who is their key player. This doesn’t apply to the Welsh though. Gareth Bale is considered by many to be the greatest British footballer of all time.

He showcased his excellence with Tottenham Hotspur before taking his talents to Madrid.

In the Spanish capital, Bale’s career hit quite a few bumps in the road. Injuries plagued the forward, as did his unwillingness to learn the language and adapt to the culture. He was sidelined at key points in the Spanish capital, but still had the ability to thrive when it matters most.

The Welshman became the first man from his country to score in a European Cup final as he netted against Atletico Madrid, as well as scoring twice from range in the 2017/18 final past Liverpool’s Loris Karius.

The Wales World Cup headlines surround Bale, as is to be expected. His career speaks for itself and in what has been something of a twist of fate, he now plies his trade in the US. LAFC added to their already all-star roster but injuries kept the 33-year-old out once again.

In typical Bale style, he rose highest in the MLS Cup final and headed home to save the day, sending the game to penalties which were eventually won by the west-coast side.

Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies and Joe Allen are other key players over the years, but they still don’t come close to Gareth Bale. The man from Cardiff has been named Wales player of the year a record six times.

At the infamous Euro 2016, Bale scored in all three of the group games on their way to top spot, including a free-kick from range against the English. Northern Ireland and Belgium then fell short against the ferocious dragons in the knockouts- somehow Bale inspired them to go all the way to the semi-finals.

Wales Tactics

When it comes to their tactical outlay, Wales once again turn to their key player. Bale isn’t a one-man team when donning the red shirt of his nation, but there is certainly some reliance on his expertise.

As is becoming more commonplace in world football, Rob Page tends to opt for a five-at-the-back formation. Their fullbacks make a huge difference going both ways, most notably Neco Williams who has performed well in this same position for Nottingham Forest.

In the final qualifier for Qatar, in which Bale scored the only goal against Ukraine, Connor Roberts and Williams were the wingbacks. Bale along with Dan James and Kieffer Moore creates a dynamic forward line that has a mixture of electric speed and dominating height. The aforementioned Ben Davies, who of course is a left-back in North London, plays on the left of the three centre-backs for Wales.

Read More: Bribes and Broken Promises: The Issues Behind the Qatar World Cup 2022

Wales Unexpected Star

This Wales World Cup campaign could well see a player or two emerge as significant pieces going forward. Williams is sure to play a major role and two other Championship products could be the unexpected star for Rob Page. Huddersfield Town’s Sorba Thomas is one of those but it seems hard to look past Brennan Johnson.

It is well documented that Steve Cooper did a magnificent job in steering Nottingham Forest away from relegation and then spearheading them towards promotion. Times might be tough in the top-flight, but the impact of Brennan Johnson on that team in the Championship was remarkable. Johnson scored 18 and assisted 10 in just over 4,200 minutes as Forest reached the Premier League via the playoffs.

In a Wales shirt, Johnson contributed three goals in four starts in their Nations League campaign this year. The go-to forward line has been Bale and James on either side of Kieffer Moore, leaving the Nottingham Forest forward to watch on from the sidelines. International tournaments require a squad to pull together and contribute when called upon- Johnson could be the difference maker in the final minutes of games.

Wales World Cup Predictions

Wales versus England has been a long-standing rivalry, one which we saw in the groups of Euro 2016 and will see again this winter. Alongside this pair, Iran and USA will be battling it out for qualification. England topping the group is the most likely outcome and behind them will be the Welsh, just about edging out Christian Pulisic and co of the USMNT.

 

Last Word on Football recognise the human rights abuses and instances of corruption taking place throughout Qatar and in the background of the World Cup. Learn more about some of the issues surrounding the World Cup here.