EUROPE: World Cup – Qualification
Time: 8:45 PM
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium (Cardiff)
Wales come into the final game of their 2022 World Cup Qualification (WCQ) campaign with it all to play for, and need just a single point to ensure a second-place finish in Group E and possible seeded status for the playoffs. If they manage it, it’ll be the first time Wales have secured a top-two finish in a WCQ group since the 1966 edition, although they no longer need to finish second to reach the playoffs having already secured a place via the UNL path.
The ‘Dragons’ have been fearless in their pursuit of a first World Cup finals appearance since 1958, losing just two of their last 19 WCQ matches (W9, D8). However they’re up against none-other than Belgium, but will hope the fact that their opponents have already secured top spot will play into their hands as they chase another impressive H2H result after losing just one of the previous five meetings (W2, D2, L1).
Belgium are still looking to go through yet another qualifying campaign undefeated, having confidently dispatched Estonia 3-1 in the last round. Still ranked #1 on the FIFA men’s rankings, many feel that Qatar 2022 is this ‘golden generation’s’ last time to shine, having so far failed to deliver any silverware despite the hype.
Manager Roberto Martínez has made a habit of coasting through the qualifying stages, as his team are now undefeated in their last 27 WCQ matches (W23, D4). Even more impressive is their away form, with Belgium winning 20 of their last 23 away World Cup or Euro qualification matches (D2, L1), scoring 58 goals and keeping 14 clean sheets during that time.
Players to watch: Aaron Ramsey has scored eight goals in his last 15 WCQ games, and he’s now only one of six players to score 20 or more goals for Wales. Meanwhile, Kevin De Bruyne has registered 15 goal contributions in just 17 WCQ starts for Belgium (G5, A10).
Wales’ form in last 5 matches: WWDDW.
Belgium’s form in last 5 matches: WLLWW.