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A race for second

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United States vs Wales preview

The FIFA World Cup 2022 is set to begin with Qatar taking on Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium. However, the tournament’s second day brings us a triple header with the final between the United States and Wales. England are favourites to top Group B, but the second spot is up for grabs with all three teams looking to join them.

The United States are among the favourites of the remaining three teams to join England in the Round of 16. National team manager Gregg Berhalter has put his trust in youngsters selecting the second-youngest squad of the FIFA World Cup. However, he also left some notable players out of his team, such as Middlesbrough’s Zack Steffen, Groningen’sRicardo Pepi, and Benfica’s John Brooks. 

The United States have recovered remarkably after losing the 2019 Gold Cup against Mexico. Since then, the team have defeated Mexico in two finals to win the CONCACAF Nations League and the 2021 Gold Cup, respectively. However, their qualification to the 2022 World Cup though automatic, could have been smoother than they finished third behind Canada and Mexico.

Meanwhile, Wales are set to play their first FIFA World Cup match since 1958. They qualified for the FIFA World Cup via the playoffs. Wales finished second in the first qualifying round by finishing second behind Belgium. They then advanced to the playoffs, defeating Austria and Ukraine, respectively, to get to their first FIFA World Cup in 64 years. 

However, in between all this, Wales’ head coach Ryan Giggs was fired after domestic abuse complaints. This was a massive blow for the team, but Giggs’ assistant Rob Page has managed to keep the team clicking. However, the World Cup is the biggest stage, and the team will need to be at their best if they can qualify for the next Round. 

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United States vs Wales team news 

Despite some notable omissions, the United States have an impressive squad. With Steffen out of the team, the number one goalkeeping spot will go to Arsenal’s Matt Turner, who has been the understudy to Aaron Ramsdale. Sergio Dest is also a player on who the pressure will be high, along with Juventus Weston McKennie, who has not played a match since the start of October and will be the midfield enforcer. 

United States Expected Line-up: Turner; Dest, Zimmerman, Long, A Robinson; Adams, McKennie, Aaronson; Reyna, Ferreira, Pulisic

Meanwhile, Wales have relied far too often on individual attacking brilliance to get them through challenging situations. And most of the time, it comes from Gareth Bale. While he may be playing in Major League Soccer (MLS), he remains his country’s best player. In goal, Wayne Hennessey is expected to start ahead of Leicester City’s Danny Ward. In defence, the onus will be on Ben Davies and Neco Williams to keep things tight at the back. 

Wales Predicted Line-up: Hennessey; C Roberts, Ampadu, Rodon, B Davies, N Williams; Allen, Ramsey; Bale, Moore, James

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The United States boast a talented squad, but it is the attack where they have the best of their bunch. They have Christian Pulisic, Giovanni Reyna, and Jesus Ferreira. The triumvirate will be the key to the United States’ chances in Qatar. Pulisic has lost his starting spot in Chelsea’s squad but still is the most crucial player for the team. He and Reyna will offer width and attack from the wings. However, one of the most underrated players in the team is defensive midfielder Tyler Adams whose main job is to do the dirty work while the attacking players work their magic up on the field.

In the current squad, Gareth Bale is the undisputed star. He may be 33 years old, but he remains their best goal-scoring threat. Partnering him on the other wing will be Fulham’s, Daniel James. Since Wales will play a defensive style with reliance on counter-attacks, a fast and skilful player like James is an integral part of the team. In midfield, the experience of Aaron Ramsey will be tasked with being the enforcer in the middle of the park. 

United States vs Wales predictions 

This match is essential for both teams, as a win will dramatically boost their chances of qualifying. Both the teams will play England later, a game they will go as underdogs and thus need the three points to get a good start at the tournament. The United States have a brilliant squad all across the pitch, giving them an edge over Wales.

FootTheBall predicts a 3-1 win for the United States.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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