USA vs Wales predictions: Dragons can deliver under pressure
Wales will look to get their first World Cup campaign in 64 years off to a winning start against the USA at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Monday evening.
The Dragons came through a highly-competitive European qualifying section via the play-offs — reserving some of their best football for the final games against Austria and Ukraine.
Robert Page brings a settled side with a good age profile and a well-defined set of tactics to Qatar in search of four points to ensure progress through Group B.
Gregg Berhalter, who will become the first man to represent his country at the World Cup as both a player and a coach, has similar designs on reaching the round of 16 and beyond with a young Stars and Stripes squad.
Their long-term target is to produce a side capable of winning the tournament on home soil when they co-host the next World Cup and any victories in this edition will be seen as a bonus.
Tim Ream could get the nod for the USA after earning his first call-up in more than a year.
The Fulham centre-back is in contention, alongside Aaron Long, to line up next to Walker Zimmerman in central defence.
Cottagers colleague Antonee Robinson will line up on the left of a back four which should also include Sergino Dest, with Arsenal back-up Matt Turner behind them in goal.
Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah are likely to feature in midfield with Gio Reyna and Christan Pulisic in attack.
The Stars and Stripes lack a recognised, top-level striker, but FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira could be entrusted to lead the line in a 4-3-3 setup after Berhalter praised his link play and pressing ability in a recent press conference.
Wales have been hit by the news that Joe Allen will definitely not feature as he has still not fully recovered from a hamstring injury he suffered while in action for Swansea City two months ago.
There has been some debate over who will don the gloves with Danny Ward pushing for a recall after keeping six clean sheets in his past eight Premier League matches for Leicester.
However, Wayne Hennessey has more international experience and impressed during the Dragons' qualification fixtures.
Page is likely to deploy Joe Rodon, Ben Davies and Ethan Ampadu or Chris Mepham in a three-man defensive shape with Neco Williams and Connor Roberts as wing-backs.
In the absence of Allen, Ampadu may be chosen to partner Aaron Ramsey in central midfield with Gareth Bale and either Dan James or Brennan Johnson the supply line for Kieffer Moore at the point of Wales' attack.
The USA were the youngest team to qualify for the World Cup with the average age of their starting XI through 14 CONCACAF qualifiers coming in at 23.8 years old.
Berhalter's 26-man squad for the finals has an average age of 25.2 years old, the second-youngest of the 32 nations behind only Ghana at 24.7.
Reyna and Musah are two of the youngest in the USA squad and both made their senior international debuts in a 0-0 draw with Wales in November 2020 — the first time in the country's history that two players under the age of 18 had started the same match.
Having made his international debut at the start of 2021, Turner has kept 14 clean sheets through his first 20 caps.
But across the USA's last 27 World Cup finals games, they have managed to keep just two clean sheets.
Bale has completed the full 90 minutes only once for either club or country this season.
Wales did not average over 47.2% possession in any of their four games at Euro 2020.
Wales have nothing to lose and will try to impose themselves on a young USA side that will have the energy levels to get around the pitch but may lack the quality and finishing power of the Dragons.
The cooler temperatures for this evening kick-off could suit a high-tempo performance from Page's side and they should make inroads against a nation that has failed to win any of their last nine World Cup finals games against European opposition, losing four and drawing five.
Page's side have only failed to score in one of their last 13 matches but seldom keep a clean sheet at the other end.
And with both teams having scored in nine of Wales' last 11 matches in all competitions, a Welsh to win with both teams on the scoresheet, which is available to back at 11/2 with LiveScore Bet, would not be a total surprise in this Group B clash.
Qatar 2022 Squads: They Score, You Score!
LiveScore Bet’s World Cup 2022 Squads is free and simple to play. Log in to view the Squads page, where you’ll get the chance to reveal up to five players. Your squad will earn you cash for each goal scored in the listed games. Reveal each player at the stated time throughout the round to complete your line-up. T&Cs apply – .