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World Cup 2022: USA vs Wales match preview

A win in their first World Cup game is key to both teams’ chances of progressing beyond the group stage in Qatar.

Pulisic
USA Captain Christian Pulisic will need to lace his superhero boots to progress beyond the World Cup's group stage in Qatar [Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP]

Who: USA v Wales, Group B|
Where: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium
When: Monday, November 21, 10pm (19:00 GMT)
Head to head: USA won once (2-0), draw once

Group B could be one of the toughest and tightest at the World Cup in Qatar, with all four teams featuring in FIFA’s top 20 highest-ranked teams.

The USA v Wales game will kick off at the Ahmed Bin Ali stadium in Al Rayyan,  several hours after the final whistle in the first group game, between England and Iran.

The US team is returning to the competition after an eight-year absence, failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament hosted by Russia. That failure led to something of a reset in US football, with a group of young and technically gifted players entrusted to navigate a tricky CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) qualifying campaign, and the team arrives in Doha full of confidence.

The team is led by Christian Pulisic, the most expensive North American football player in history. The 5’10” forward is the face of US football, and the team is built around his mercurial presence.

For Wales, the wait for an appearance at a World Cup goes back to 1958. Led by Gareth Bale, the team qualified after finishing second in their group and defeating Ukraine in a playoff.

When Bale is in form, he’s one of the fastest and most skilful footballers in the world. He currently plays his club football in the US, with the city of Los Angeles his latest stop in a stellar career featuring Champions League wins with Real Madrid, as well as 71 goals for Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League.

Gareth Bale
If Gareth Bale can find form, Wales will be difficult to beat during the World Cup group stages in Qatar [Matthew Childs/Action Images/Reuters]

But Wales are more than a one-man team. Fellow veterans Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen provide solid midfield support. The three Welsh heroes have the weight of a nation’s expectations upon their shoulders, and that burden may prove too great as the tournament progresses. But the trio should be fresh and full of beans in their first game of the campaign, at least.

That said, the US team were unbeaten at home during their qualification run, even without some of their Europe-based players. Expect to see a repeat of their 4-1-4-1 formation with plenty of attacks from the wings on each flank.

With England expected to top Group B, this match could be crucial for the chances of Wales and the US to make it through to the final 16 in the runner-up spot.

Source: Al Jazeera