On the surface of things, when your nation sits bottom of their Nations League group, it is not something to be lauded at. This is where Rob Page’s Wales find themselves as they travel east to face an imperious Belgian side looking to keep ground with Group A4 leaders Netherlands in this crucial clash on Thursday night. In reality though, this will be nothing of a concern to this Welsh side. Yes, relegation to the lower division of the Nations League groupings looks a strong possibility, however after qualifying for their first World Cup since 1958, it’s basically full steam ahead Qatar for Page’s men.
Belgium will of course have their own preparations for the World Cup too, but have an abundance of riches to call upon in terms of team rotation so as not to risk major injury ahead of the tournament. Not only a game with big implications for this Nations League group, but also a chance to get to see either side as we draw ever closer to the first ever winter World Cup in roughly two months’ time.
Belgium v Wales Bet Builder Tips
Belgium to Win
Page’s side demonstrated their credibility as a World Cup worthy side when they forced a point out of Roberto Martinez’s Belgium side when they last met in June. A 1-1 draw was arguably a flattering result for this Belgian side, who despite winning the possession game, racked up less xG than the hosts during that clash in June (1.66-1.22). I’ve mentioned it before, but with this being the first Welsh World Cup participation since 1958, the last thing Rob Page will want to do is risk any of his key players to a silly injury in the lead up to the tournament. One can only wonder what an injury to the likes of Bale or Ramsey will do to the morale of the side. I would be amazed to see a full strength Welsh side fielded here in Brussels on Thursday evening.
So we’ve established it’s in the best interest of this Welsh side not to be overzealous in this game with Qatar around the corner. You only have to look at Belgium’s home record over recent years to see just how difficult they are to break down. The Red Devils have only lost one Nations League game on home soil dating back to 2020, that being a shock 4-1 home defeat to the Netherlands back in June. Despite being resilient in many of these big clashes, Wales have only won one of their last six games in all international competitions (that being the Qualification Play-Off against Ukraine). Belgium are sure to ring the changes too, but given the staggering depth and quality they have at their disposal, I predict this Wales side to leave Brussels empty handed.
Yannick Carrasco to have 1+ Shot on Target
The Atletico Madrid man is my tip to hit the target at least once when these sides meet on Thursday night. Despite being used almost as a utility wing back by Simeone at his club side, Carrasco has proven he is very much an attacking player for his national team as seen in his heat map tracking. Even at this wing back position, he is still proving a handful for goalkeepers, especially from range. Averaging 2.74 shots per game in La Liga this season, with just under half being on target (46%), it wouldn’t be shocking to see Carrasco try his luck from distance, especially when you consider how Wales are likely to sit back and soak up pressure. Not to mention this selection landed when the teams last met, as Carrasco continued his trend of having two shots, with one being on target. At 1.73, I can only see this being an excellent value addition to your potential Bet Builder for this game.
Joe Morrell to be Shown a Card
It’s not often you see a League One player in strong contention to feature for a World Cup Finals side, but Joe Morrell falls firmly into that category. The Portsmouth man should find himself starting in midfield on Thursday night, deputizing in the absence of the injured Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen. After averaging 75 minutes for his country at the last European Championship, it’s clear that Morrell is very much part of Rob Page’s plans, and is my pick to receive a booking tonight at a generous price of 3.6.
Morell will surely find himself in a midfield combo alongside fellow League One standout Matt Smith, far from the aforementioned Allen and Ramsey. Up against the likes of Youri Tielemans and Axel Witsel, it may be a long night soaking up pressure for Morrell. The midfielder has averaged over a foul per game (1.23) throughout his entire international career, and has eight fouls across his last ten international games including three bookings. He was even booked for a foul on Witsel when the sides met in November 2021, in what was a lazy lunge after only 34 mins. With this Welsh side averaging only 30% possession across the last two meetings against Belgium, it’s hard to see them having the ball, meaning Morrell could easily find himself in the book.
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Belgium predicted XI (3-4-3): Courtois; Boyata, Vertonghen, Alderweireld; Castagne, Tielemans, Witsel, Carrasco; De Bruyne, Batshuayi, E. Hazard
Wales predicted XI (3-4-3): Hennessey; Rodon, Ampadu, Davies; N. Williams, Morrell, Smith, Norrington-Davies; James, Bale; Moore
* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing *
How to watch Belgium v Wales in the Nations League?
📅 When is Belgium v Wales? / Thursday, 22nd September 2022, 7:45PM
🏟 Where is Belgium v Wales? / King Baudouin Stadium (Brussels)
📺 What TV channel is Belgium v Wales on? / Premier Sports 1 / S4C
🟨 …And who is the referee for Belgium v Wales? / A. Palabiyik 🇹🇷