First Appearance Since 1958
As the domestic football leagues have closed their doors for two weeks, we start the international break with some World Cup qualifiers. This fixture will be one of the most important in Wales’ footballing history, as if they manage to win they’ll be on the brink of a first World Cup appearance since 1958, which was their first and only trip to the most coveted tournament in world football.
Austria have been to the World Cup seven times and finished as high as third in 1954, though the last time they reached the tournament came back in 1998 and the historical element should play no part here.
Key Players Available
The Austrians only just edge out Wales as being the favourites for this game, but it is all extremely even (Wales 2.96, Draw 3.1, Austria 2.86), despite the Dragons boasting home advantage with this game to be held at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Both sides have some quality in the ranks, with Austria claiming the likes of David Alaba, Marko Arnautovic and Marcel Sabitzer, while Wales are hoping to have key men Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey available, even if the Real Madrid man missed the recent El Clasico with back pain.
Still, Ramsey will have had his confidence boosted by a first Rangers goal at the weekend, while Wales aren’t quite as reliant upon their vaunted duo these days with the likes of Daniel James and Harry Wilson emerging as important players.
Wales To Win
Wales haven’t lost in the last seven games international they’ve played (W3-D4), including a 1-1 draw against Belgium in the most recent fixture despite Bale’s absence.
Austria haven’t been quite as dominant across their previous seven, winning four and losing three, as this also included a pair of wins over Moldova and another over the Faroe Islands. Meanwhile, defeats to Israel (5-2) and Scotland (1-0) over this period effectively cost them second place in their qualifying group.
These two have been involved in some high-scoring games of late as looking at each of their past six fixtures combined, as many as half of these featured at least four goals. However, we wouldn’t necessarily expect that here given the importance of the fixture, while Wales have for a number of years been used to low-scoring affairs.
Wales To Qualify
Wales are a tough nut to crack with just five defeats from their past 30 games, all coming against better teams than Austria as they went down in away trips to England, Belgium, France and Italy, as well as at home to Denmark.
In addition, Austria have had a rather poor away run of late. Excluding victories over weaker outfits Moldova, Luxembourg, Northern Ireland, North Macedonia and Slovenia, they’ve lost five of six winless road trips since September 2017.
That includes 1-0 defeats to Latvia, Bosnia and Wales themselves, as well as 2-0 and 4-2 defeats to Denmark and Israel respectively.
WALES TO WIN
WALES TO QUALIFY
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