How do the teams shape up heading into the key battle?
Friday night is nearly upon us. Wales have a huge opportunity to close the gap on existing group leaders theRepublic Of Ireland in Dublin in a vital World Cup qualifier. We preview of the game, as well as looking at how Wales will line up for the encounter and my predicted outcome.
Wales have had a slow start to the campaign; after 4 games played, only 6 points amassed. The disappointing aspect for the Welsh faithful has been the fact that, of those 4 games, 3 were at home, which only resulted in the one victory — against Moldova. The positive is that following a draw away in Austria, Wales are still undefeated, and remain only 4 points off Ireland at despite a lacklustre start.
For the Ireland match, Wales have an almost full squad to select from; the only notable absentee on current form is Tom Lawrence who has been in outstanding form for Ipswich Town. Lawrence may well have been pushing for a starting spot or at the very least a place on the bench.
Two young Liverpool players are in the squad in the shape of Ben Woodburn and Harry Wilson, and both are exciting players with Woodburn, in particular, being in the spotlight of the media after making his debut this season at the tender age of 17 years of age. It will be interesting to see what part, if any, he makes on Friday night.
Woodburn looks a composed and talented individual and, if he is required, then I expect him to make a very good account of himself.
Harry Wilson, after making his debut for Wales at the age of 16, has been quiet for a while, but is still only 20 years of age and this season has captained Liverpool under 23’s, with some fine performances. To date, he has 25 goals; a fantastic rate for a wide midfielder.
The opposition Ireland have a number of players missing due to injuries, such as Ciaran Clark, Harry Arter and Wes Hoolahan, whilst Robbie Brady also misses out due to suspension. Key players such as Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy are also rated as doubtful, causing problems for Martin O’Neill.
Ireland are a well organised and effective side and no doubt Friday will be an emotional occasion following the recent and tragic death of Derry City’s defender and captain, Ryan McBride, with players in the Ireland squad knowing the player well – James McLean being a close friend and is rumoured to be wearing the number 5 shirt in tribute. We could see an emotionally fuelled event on Friday, with passions running very high.
In terms of the game, I think Wales have the additional bit of class required to come through with the victory. Wales can struggle if teams sit deep and try and play on the counter, but with players of the technical ability of Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey able to play through the lines and take up good positions, as well as talisman Gareth Bale in advanced positions, you will always have opportunities. I think that as long as Wales do the basics well come, we will come through with a 2–0 victory and increase our chances of qualifying for the World Cup finals.
My Predicted Team Line Up
What is your predicted line up? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter @yddraigHQ