USA vs Wales Prediction
21st November 2022
22:00 Qatar Time/19:00 GMT
Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Current Form (Last Five Matches):
USA vs Wales Prediction Match Overview
In the second group B match, a young United States team under new management take on Wales who are making their first World Cup appearance in 64 years.
The Americans qualified for Qatar fairly comfortably, four years after their shocking omission from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. It can be said that they are adjusting to a new style of play under Gregg Berhalter which has produced mixed results in the lead-up to the tournament. Their two World Cup warm-up games were disappointing, as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to Japan without registering a single shot on target, and followed up with a toothless 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia. The United States will be hoping that they’re able to click in their group opener.
While Wales’ recent form has produced four defeats and a solitary draw, upon closer inspection it can be said that they faced formidable opposition, playing both Netherlands and Belgium twice as they were relegated from their UEFA Nations League group. All of their group defeats came via a one-goal margin, and they battled to a 1-1 draw at home to the Belgians. Wales might not be the most popular nation in the international footballing community, having defeated war-torn Ukraine 1-0 in a playoff to reach their first World Cup since 1958.
Injuries and Suspensions
Will Not Play:
Joe Allen (Wales); Luca de la Torre (USA)
USA vs Wales Prediction Analysis
With both teams viewing this group opener as a must-win game owing to the strength of group favourites England and a strong Iranian side waiting in tow, both sides will likely employ plenty of attacking ambition, so we can expect to see the Welsh trying to spread the play high up the pitch in wide areas in a direct manner, taking advantage of their pacy wing-backs and wide attackers to create both counter-attacking opportunities and overloads. Given that the Americans seem to be committed to playing 4 at the back with two attacking full-backs, the Welsh could find significant joy in this area.
Much will depend upon the form and fitness of the two best Welsh footballers of this generation in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey. Bale has struggled for goals and also playing time following his move to Los Angeles FC, but has a well-earned reputation for raising his game for the big occasion so it would be to nobody’s real surprise if he lifted his game for the group opener. Aaron Ramsey has come through some niggling injuries this season at French outfit Nice to complete the full 90 minutes in consecutive games against Brest and Lyon, so the Welsh will hope that Ramsey will be coming into the tournament in good condition. Spurs’ Ben Davies will provide a calming, reassuring presence at the back.
For the Americans, we can see that Berhalter is working to modernise their footballing culture and we will see them attempt to monopolise the ball to strike when they feel the time is right, primarily through their enterprising fullbacks in Antonee Robinson and Sergio Dest supporting Christian Pulisic and Brenden Aaronson in wide areas. Weston McKennie will look to break through the lines at every opportunity to join the attack, which he has been able to do with some effectiveness at Juventus.
Much of the attacking burden will fall to who many feel is one of America’s most talented players of all time, Christian Pulisic. It is perhaps concerning from an American point of view that Pulisic is in-and-out of a strong Chelsea team as this makes it difficult for him to put together a strong run of form, but he is likely to be ever-present in this World Cup so will be allowed to do just that. Fortunately for the US, if plan A doesn’t appear to be working they do possess significant strength-in-depth in the final third, with the attacking talents of both Timothy Weah and Giovanni Reyna available to call upon from the bench.
USA Key Players
Pulisic’s searing pace and excellent first touch will be important for several reasons; firstly, with both sides treating this encounter as a must-win game, Pulisic will be required to both stretch the defence and make good decisions when the ball does reach him. Secondly, the Welsh will seek to pack the centre of the pitch when out of possession and space through the middle will likely be at a premium, which is where his excellent first touch and technical ability could come into play.
McKennie has been an impressive presence at Serie A’s Juventus, adopting more of an all-action style in the Mezzala tradition recently and we can expect McKennie to bring his dominant performances to the national team. How McKennie performs and can supplement both defence and attack with his high energy, off-ball intelligence and his passing proficiency will be crucial to the USA’s chances of success.
Wales Key Players
Perhaps a surprise inclusion here to some, or a sentimental pick, the fact remains that Gareth Bale has been so important for Wales over such a lengthy period of time and when at his best possesses an irresistible blend of pace, intelligent off-ball movement and superb technique but also has an eye for the unexpected which has made him exceptionally difficult to play against. When you factor in his reputation as a big-game player, Bale may find his feet early in the tournament.
Another Welsh star going through something of a rehabilitative period, the form of Aaron Ramsey will also be vital in ensuring that Wales can provide something different in midfield to trouble the Americans. If the US are too gung-ho in their attacking approach, Ramsey’s composure and ability to burst from deep will be of great importance to the fluency of Welsh counter-attacks. Additionally, if Wales can enjoy spells of possession, Ramsey’s technical ability will help them to retain the ball.
USA vs Wales Prediction
This game really could go either way, we don’t think there is a lot to separate the teams as the Americans are struggling to find their feet in front of goal under Berhalter and the Welsh’s recent poor form on paper is deceptive. Given that they possess several big game performers, we feel they can get something from the game.