Preview on the USA vs Wales game at World Cup Group Stage
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar begins in less than 35 days and one can’t help but be ecstatic about this fact even though football is going through one of its most hectic periods ever.
On the 18th of November, the 32 best national football teams in the world will converge in Qatar for the chance to attain supremacy and become World Champions. Eight groups have been drawn for this tournament and the best two teams will qualify for the knockout stages. The results of the draw made on April 1, 2022 are as follows:
Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
Group B: England, Iran, USA, Wales
Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
Group D: France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia
Group E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan
Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea
This article places its focus on group B. More precisely it focuses on the group game between the United States of America (USA) and Wales. This match takes place on the 21st of November and will be the second group B match of the day with England facing Iran before this fixture happens. This gives fans enough time go get in their late USA Wales prediction if they haven’t already.
Before we dive deeper into the match itself, we first need to have a brief history of how they qualified for the World Cup.
The Welsh national team were put in a qualification group with giants Belgium, the Czech Republic, Belarus and Estonia. They were able to earn 15 points from their 8 games played and finished second below group winners Belgium who won the group by five points. Finishing second meant they had to go through two more playoff matches before getting qualifying for the World Cup. They were able to best Austria and Ukraine, ending both countries hopes of qualifying for the World Cup and booked a flight to Qatar for themselves.
The United States were placed in a group with the likes of rivals Canada, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Jamaica and El Salvador. They finished third in that group and qualified for the World Cup on goal difference after they finished level on points with Costa Rica (25 points).
On the 21st of November the 19th ranked Wales will face off against the 16th ranked USA at the Al Rayyan stadium and that match could be the most important for both teams who aspire to qualify for the knockout stages. This is because the other two teams in the group are England and Iran and the favorites to win the group and one of the favorites to win the entire tournament and an Iran team not fancied to come away from the group with even a point. Football isn’t a sport played on paper but these facts are undeniable and it makes their opening fixture against each other the most important one and a win for each team might all but secure qualification to the next round.
If you go by their world ranking, the 16th ranked USA will be seen as slight favourites against the 19th ranked Wales but the form of both teams heading into the World Cup may indicate that the match will be much closer.
In their last five games, Wales have not been able to win any of them. In fact, you would have to go back to their win against Ukraine in May, which secured them World Cup qualification as the last time they were able to win a competitive game. They didn’t win any of their UEFA Nations League group games and go into the tournament in bad form.
Since their 5-1 World Cup Qualifier win over Panama in March, the US have been able to win two of their last seven international matches with those wins coming against Grenada in the CONCACAF Nations League and Morocco in an international friendly.
Their recent result was a 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia which caused a lot of upset among fans in the US. You could argue that their form going into the tournament is slightly better, but only slightly.
It isn’t looking good for either team in the lead-up to the tournament but when they walk out onto the pitch for their encounter, the form book goes out the window and each player on both sides will have to produce the performance of their lives.
Who will be the key players?
For Wales, you’ve got to look no further than the legendary Gareth Bale. The Welsh wizard has almost singlehandedly dragged his national team to the World Cup with huge performances during qualifying stages and will definitely be there to help his team achieve success against the Americans and beyond. He will be by far the best player on the pitch come the 21st of November and will assert his authority on the match as the greatest players do.
Right behind him is Aaron Ramsey. The 31 year old midfielder has been there over the years as a key cog in the Welsh midfield machine and will be key in helping Wales control the middle of the park with his experience and quality.
Captain America aka Christian Pulisic has already led his country to huge wins in the past but this tournament will be his biggest challenge yet. At 24, Pulisic has already graced some of the biggest stages in world football and will be looked at by his young teammates as a talismanic figure.
His lack of consistent playing time at Chelsea may be a bother going to the World Cup but Pulisic will be up to the challenge when the time comes.
Weston McKennie has had difficult time with injuries in recent times but it looks like he has found some fitness now and his timing couldn’t be better. The Juventus man is an important part of that US midfield and his partnership with Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah will be crucial if they are to secure victory over the Welsh.
This is Wales’ first World Cup appearance since 1958 which means that this is a first World Cup appearance for these players. The same could also be said for the young United States team to an extent. It has been eight years since their last World Cup appearance and they have assembled a very young crop of talented players and the majority of the squad will be participating in their very first World Cup.
The nerves will be high on both sides and the sense of occasion will be nauseating but they will have to shake off all of the nerves and anxiety in order to play the match and not the occasion. Glory awaits one or none of these two teams in Qatar but it’s up to them to decide their destiny.
Who are the early contenders to make the World Series in 2023?
Opening Day is fast approaching. With pitchers and catchers reporting to major league camps across Arizona and Florida this week, baseball is officially back and for the first time since 2019, we have a full spring training ahead of us. The start of camp means a first chance to view stars such as Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander and Trea Turner in their new uniforms, and this year we’ll get to see MLB’s 2023 rule changes in action. To no one’s surprise, the reigning World Series Champion Astros are the team to beat heading into 2023. The Houston outfit will be looking to secure back-to-back World Series titles for the first time since the Yankees achieved the feat in the laste-90s. But can anyone knock the seemingly unbeatable Astros off their perch and stop them from laying their hands on the Commissioner’s trophy once again? Here’s our look at what to expect from some of the top contenders in the 2023 MLB season.
Astros the favourites to defend their title
The reigning-champion Houston Astros are the current favorites to take home the 2023 World Series title, but do they really have enough to repeat? The bookies would have you believing they do. Even in a loaded AL West, the Astros are priced as a two-dollar favorite to emerge as the division winner, so expectations are still sky-high at Minute Maid Park. Those wanting to bet on the 2023 MLB season should look across various US betting sites before they do. Having lost Justin Verlander this offseason, the Astros’ season will likely boil down to how well they can replace this era-defining pitcher. Their new-look top three of Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, and Lance McCullers possess all the necessary tools and should be more than formidable enough to mitigate his departure. Houston’s lineup looks to be even more lethal this season, signing 2020 AL MVP José Abreu to a three-year deal to shore up their lone hole at first base. Houston ended last season ranking second in the AL in isolated power and strike-rate. Michael Brantley’s return from a right shoulder injury that cut his 2022 season short is a welcomed sight. The Astros look poised to win the AL West for a sixth time in seven seasons and with it make a fourth trip to the World Series in five years.
New York Yankees the most likely to challenge Astros dominance
The New York Yankees last won the World Series in 2009, going more than a decade without even winning the American League pennant. For the most successful franchise in MLB history, short trips to the postseason have become the norm as of late and that is a trend the Yankees will look to buck. Thankfully for New York fans they have retained the services of MVP hitter Aaron Judge into this year while adding Cy Young candidate Carlos Rodon to a six-year $162million deal. This will give them the best possible chance to replicate their immense offensive output from last year while adding some much-needed depth to the dugout. Finding stability outside of Judge is a must, as Anthony Rizzo, Josh Donaldson, and Giancarlo Stanton need to provide some protection in the middle of the lineup. There’s a chance the Yankees claim one of the three wild-card spots with the AL East being such a deep division, but still, the Yankees have more than enough pieces to make a run into October. The Yankees had a very strong start to the season in 2022, followed by a slump in the second half that culminated in an ALCS defeat to eventual World Series champions Astros. If these signings are anything to go by, they are ready to end the drought.
New York Mets are the best of the rest
Over on the other side of town, the Mets at Citi Field have been making a lot of noise this offseason. The last two seasons, the Mets had the National League East title well within reach late in the season, and both times they let it slip away to the Braves. For the second straight offseason, the Mets responded to that disappointment by spending a bunch of money on very good players. They enter the year with a slightly improved and much more expensive roster looking to finally take home that elusive NL East crown for the first time since 2015. So far this Winter, the Mets have signed Justin Verlander, José Quintana, David Robertson, Kodai Senga, Omar Narváez, and Carlos Correa. Brandon Nimmo, Edwin Diaz, and Adam Ottavino have also been re-signed, which puts the Mets’ total outlay this offseason at $806.1 million; the most money ever spent by a team in a single offseason. Their intentions are clear, they’re here to win this year, and they have taken all the necessary steps to ensure they do just that. Having said that, the NL East was probably the most active division in the offseason for signings and the question remains whether they would have done enough to pose a credible threat to the Yankees’ or Astros’ World Series ambitions. At the very least though they will be competing for a divisional title.
San Diego hoping to silence the doubters
Given how complete San Diego’s roster is coupled with the fact they advanced to last season’s NLCS, it’s a bit surprising to see the Padres priced at only +1000. Sure, oddsmakers are still expecting a successful season with the Padres boasting the sixth-best odds to win the 2023 Fall Classic, but a +750 price tag is more in line with this team’s ceiling. The San Diego Padres lost the NLCS in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies, but three of the four losses were decided by two runs or fewer. While San Diego struck out on landing Aaron Judge, it dramatically improved its lineup depth with Matt Carpenter and Nelson Cruz. Keep in mind, San Diego is already making up for the Fernando Tatís Jr. suspension with perennial All-Star hitter Xander Bogaerts sliding in at shortstop. Tatís Jr. should be at peak form long before the playoff race, giving San Diego a lineup with multiple NL MVP candidates and excellent depth, with a strong rotation and excellent bullpen backing them. If there’s ever a time the Padres dethrone the Dodgers and claim the NL West regular season title, now’s the time, and past that, why not dream of a visit to the Fall classic?
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