In Monday’s third and final World Cup soccer encounter, USMNT take on Wales in Group B (2pm ET). This is a huge game for both teams, as they look to hit the ground running at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan.
In terms of recent efforts, Team USA haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory. They tied 0-0 with Saudi Arabia last time out, while they were beaten by the Japanese before that. In fact, Greg Berhalter’s men have won only one of their last five fixtures. At the same time, they have only lost one of their last six, and during that time they’ve have delivered some promising performances, such as when tying with Uruguay back in June.
A quick glance at the form of the Welsh points towards them being in terrible form, but that’s not strictly true. In fairness, between June and late September, they were up against some very good teams in the UEFA Nations League, facing Netherlands and Belgium, while going up against Poland isn’t exactly a walk in the park either. Considering that their last six games came against such opposition, the fact that they didn’t lose by more than a single goal at any point is relatively impressive. Don’t be fooled by the bare form, this Wales team is anything but easy to get the better of.
A new dawn for USA
There’s a great sense of anticipation among U.S. fans ahead of this World Cup. This is no longer the USMNT of old. After many years of investing in the game back home, with Major League Soccer clubs focusing heavily on growing the game from grass roots level and producing their own talent, we are seeing more and more American talent arrive in Europe’s big leagues. Now, there is a chance for the new generation of USA players to show what they are really made of on the biggest stage of all.
If we look through the U.S. squad, there are some big-name players. Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic will shoulder lots of responsibility as captain, but he is not the only star. Joining him will be Tyler Adams and Brendan Aaronson, both of whom play in the Premier League with Leeds, as well as Fulham’s Antonee Robinson, AC Milan’s Sergino Dest, Juventus’ Weston Mckennie, Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna, Valencia’s Yunus Musah and Tim Weah of Lille. Make no mistake about it, the USA have quality players all over the pitch.
Last chance for dogged Wales
While we have not seen the current USA crop of players come together on the biggest stage yet, we’ve seen plenty from this Welsh group over the last few years. They were fantastic in France back in 2016, while they once again impressed by being incredibly tough to beat at last summer’s European Championship.
Of course, there are some fresh faces, and some talent has emerged in recent times, but largely, this group has grown together. Now, as many enter the twilight of their careers, think Gareth Bale, think Aaron Ramsey, this is their chance to show the world what they can do at FIFA’s showpiece event.
We know what to expect from the Welsh. They will get men behind the ball, and they’ll look hit on the break, utilising the pace of Dan James and Brennan Johnson. They’ll also look to get their talisman Gareth Bale on the ball as much as possible, and if he’s on it, then Rob Page knows that his team have a match winner. Bale has come up with countless big moments for his nation, some of which came during World Cup qualification, when he scored five goals and provided four assists in seven games.
Go for goals in the betting
In truth, neither Wales nor the US have shown themselves to be huge scorers, but at the same time, both teams will be dying to get off to a good start. They will both view this as a winnable game, especially with a game against Group B favourites England to come. The fact that both are likely to target this as a winnable fixture could aid an attacking contest.
What’s more, the Welsh have made a bit of a habit of being involved in games where they both score and concede of late, especially when playing away from the comforts of home, which they of course will be here. They have scored in each of their last six away games and have conceded in five of those.
USMNT have a similar habit of conceding goals on the road, ceding in all but one of their last seven games away from the comforts of a home stadium. Their record at the other end isn’t as good as Wales’, but they’ve got lots of attacking talent in this squad. So don’t be surprised if they test a Welsh backline that for all its endeavour has kept few clean sheets in recent times.
Bet on Bale
If you are looking for a player prop on this game, then look no further than Gareth Bale, who is still a big-game player. Moreover, his record for Wales when it matters most is impressive.
As mentioned in this preview above, the Welsh captain scored five goals in seven World Cup qualifiers. If we look back to Euro 2016, Bale notched three times in that competition, scoring in every group game.
If you are thinking that he’s no longer the same player, then think again. Sure, he may not have the same dynamism or the same level of blistering pace, but he can shoot as well as ever and can still provide big moments, as he proved when coming off the bench to score the all-important goal for LAFC in the recent MLS Cup final. Since the start of the 2021 season, he has averaged 0.41 goals per game, as well as 0.46 xG, plus 4.56 shots. At 9/4, he’s the man.
So these are our USA vs Wales betting picks and predictions, at the sportsbooks’ best odds, for this soccer World Cup matchup preview: