We have looked at the numbers behind Wales’s qualifying campaign to help you with your World Cup bets. There is plenty of value to be had and trends to look out for when the tournament begins.
Wales have qualified for their first World Cup since 1958. They made it to the quarter-finals that time around. Eventually being eliminated by Pele’s Brazil. Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are at the tail end of their careers. The pair were instrumental in Wales’ Euro 2016 run. They will both be looking to end their international careers on a high.
Rob Page took over the team after Ryan Giggs was forced to step down. Under his reign, Wales secured promotion to the top group in the Nations League. They have looked a very capable outfit. Success for the Welsh would be to get out of the group stage. There is plenty of optimism that they can do just that. Despite relegation in the most recent Nations League, they have shown they can compete. They were narrowly beaten by the Netherlands in injury time both times they played.
England are their stiffest group opponents, and the Welsh would enjoy nothing more than a win over their rivals. But Iran and the USA are very winnable if Wales are at their best.
Top 3 – Goal Contributions In Qualifying
Gareth Bale has cemented his status as a national hero over the last decade. He has picked up many trophies at club level and been instrumental in a successful period for Welsh football. A major tournament victory is out of reach for a country like Wales, but they’ll be looking to Bale to get them to the knockout stages. The attacker had 5 goals and 4 assists in qualifying. 2 of his goals came from the penalty spot. Bale doesn’t have the pace he once possessed, but he is capable of producing the magic that can get Wales over the line.
Bale made the switch to the MLS in the summer in a bid to remain fit for the World Cup. He has made 14 appearances for LA FC, but 11 of them have come from the bench. The Welshman has contributed with 3 goals. He scored a crucial goal in the 128th minute of extra time in the MLS playoff final. His team went on to lift the trophy.
Dan James is a constant threat for Wales. His pace on the counter is a valuable weapon for Rob Page when his team are forced to soak up pressure. The winger has been criticised for his lack of end product. James frequently makes wrong decisions in the final third of the pitch. He still managed to chip in with 2 goals and 2 assists. The Welsh will be hoping James is more incisive in Qatar
James made 2 appearances for Leeds this season before moving to Fulham. He has made 5 starts and 6 appearances from the bench so far this season. However, he has failed to contribute with a goal or an assist. Rob Page will be hoping the winger performs to a higher standard for the national team.
Next up, we have another Fulham player. Wilson will likely have to fight for a starting berth this winter, but he did well in qualifying. He scored 1 goal and assisted his teammates on 3 occasions. He started out wide and as a centre midfielder as Rob Page utilised many different formations. His versatility will come in handy during the tournament.
Wilson has played just 2018 minutes in the Premier League this season and like James, he is yet to register a goal or an assist.
Wales are averaging 11.1 shots in their last matches. This is fewer than their opponents who are averaging 14.3. Wales were in group A of the Nations League and faced a higher class of opponent for many of those matches.
Top 3 – Shots In Qualifying (Per 90 Minutes)
Bale is the focal point of the Wales attack. While Wales are improving as a unit, much of their success depends on Gareth being able to deliver something special. He is also the freekick and penalty taker so it’s no wonder he has the most shots for the national team. During qualifying, Bale averaged 3.97 shots per 90 minutes played. He had 25 shots overall. Almost double any of his teammates.
As previously mentioned, Gareth hasn’t started many games for LA. However, he has been having a good number of shots from the bench. He is averaging 4.41 shots per 90 minutes in the MLS since joining the club. Bale is also a significant aerial threat. 23.5% of his shots for LA have been headers. The crucial equaliser he scored in the final was a header. Wales will look to make use of this threat in Qatar, and the headed shots market is one to look out for.
Dan James is in this list because he recorded 13 attempts over the course of the campaign, the 2nd most in the squad. It is worth noting that Williams (1.62), Moore (2.62) and Ramsey (1.96) all played 360+ minutes and had a better average per 90 minutes. James averaged 1.35 shots per 90 minutes and he was the player who played the most minutes during qualifying. He is likely to start in Qatar, but it is worth looking out for Moore’s shots from the bench.
James averages 2.08 shots per 90 minutes played in the Premier League this season. This includes his matches for both Fulham and Leeds. He has found a spot in the starting 11 difficult to come by, but he has shown a willingness to shoot when on the pitch. He has played; left midfield, right midfield, attacking midfield, and striker for club and country in recent months. His versatility should help him be a threat to the opposition.
Neco Williams, Aaron Ramsey, and Kieffer Moore all finished qualifying having registered 11 shots. I’ve chosen Kieffer Moore for this list because he is the only one of the three averaging over 2 shots per 90 minutes. Moore scored the opening goal for Wales in the last major tournament. It remains to be seen whether he will be trusted to start in any of the matches in Qatar. He scored against Belgium in Wales’ last round of internationals.
Moore has scored just the 3 goals for Bournemouth this season. He averages 1.19 shots per game in a side that averages the fewest shots in the league. However, Moore does provide an aerial threat. He is able to hold the ball up and lay it off to teammates. Enabling those around him to attack the space left by the defenders who have gone to mark him.
Shots on Target
Wales are averaging 3.6 shots on target per game over their last 10 matches; meaning 32.4% of their shots are accurate.
Top 3 – Shots On Target In Qualifying (Per 90 Minutes)
Unsurprisingly, the man who had the most shots also had the most on target. Mbappe had 11 in qualifying. 57.9% of his overall attempts tested the keeper. The mercurial forward averaged just under a goal per game in the campaign. It’s easy to see why given his accuracy. He averaged 2.12 shots on target per 90 minutes.
Mbappe is averaging 2.39 shots on target per 90 minutes at club level this season. He has predominantly played as the lone central striker, and he has been clinical. He has a 7.84 average rating in Ligue 1 so expect him to start the tournament in good form.
There are three players who had 5 shots for Page’s side during qualifying; James, Ramsey and Moore. The Bournemouth striker averaged 1.19 shots on target per 90 minutes played. The forward looks like a good bet for when Wales are chasing a game and opt to launch balls into the box.
Moore has had more shots on target than off target for Bournemouth this season. The striker rarely has a speculative effort on goal and he is averaging 0.66 shots on target per 90 minutes.
Ramsey averaged 0.89 shots on target per game throughout qualifying. 0.37 than Dan James, the other player on 5, who didn’t make this list. The midfielder would no doubt have featured more if it wasn’t for his injury plight.
Ramsey is playing his football for Nice in Ligue 1 this season. The team are firmly in mid table heading into the break as they adjust to life without Galtier in charge. Ramsey has played 484 minutes across 11 matches for the French side. He is averaging 0.7 shots on target per game for Nice. The midfielder takes on more responsibility for Wales so expect him to get slightly more shots on target for Wales.
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