Wales 2022 World Cup squad: Roster, outlook, players to watch

Wales 2022 World Cup squad: Roster, outlook, players to watch

Updated: 2 months, 23 days, 18 hours, 43 minutes, 55 seconds ago

Wales hasn’t been at the World Cup since 1958, and with Gareth Bale on the back nine of his career, it’s out to make some noise.

Typically enveloped in the shadow of neighboring England, Wales is back again at the World Cup for the first time in over a half-century. But the nation of just over three million inhabitants isn’t looking for participation trophies in Qatar. Led by Gareth Bale, widely regarded as the country’s greatest-ever player, the Welsh delivered valiant performances in qualifying to reach this point. With Wales thrust into a four-team playoff for the final spot, Bale came through with a brace to beat Austria, and his side then persevered against a valiant Ukraine side playing amid war at home.

Some 64 years have passed since Wales last attended a World Cup. Back at Sweden 1958, an over-performing Welsh side just barely reached the tournament and subsequently made an unlikely run to the quarterfinals. A similar run with Bale leading the way isn’t unprecedented—Wales made it all the way to the semifinals in its first appearance at the Euros in 2016.

Recent form, however, may be cause for concern. Bale, for one, played sparingly since a move to MLS’s LAFC, scoring twice in 12 regular-season appearances—just two of which were starts. His goal deep into extra time in MLS Cup, however, could serve as a potential launchpad. Nevertheless, since the playoff win over Ukraine, Wales went five UEFA Nations League games without a victory, a draw with Belgium the only point gathered. The competition was stiff—Netherlands, Belgium and Poland are all Qatar-bound teams. But in what is more than likely the last and only World Cup for the nation’s greatest-player, Wales will need to dispel that rocky form quickly in what could end up an open group.

Group B Schedule (all times Eastern)

- USA, Nov. 21, 2 p.m.

- Iran, Nov. 25, 5 a.m.

- England, Nov. 29, 2 p.m.

Coach

Rob Page, became interim manager in November 2020, replaced Ryan Giggs permanently in September 2022. Giggs resigned as he faced charges of domestic violence.

Players to Watch

Gareth Bale, forward

Finally, at 33, Bale has reached his first World Cup. He’s lost a step with his age and his fitness level remains in question, but he is still the face of a nation and has a special finishing ability that could prove crucial if Wales creates minimal scoring chances.

Dan James, forward

Pace is a key attribute with this Welsh attack that grabbed several results without possessing the ball by being deadly on the counterattack. James has plenty of it. The Fulham forward has yet to put together a solid goalscoring run, but he played most of his nation’s qualifying matches and figures to be a key player in trying to stretch opposition defense.

Joe Rodon, defender

Unable to get minutes with Premier League side Tottenham, Rodon found his way to French team Rennes, where he’s had a bit of a roller coaster of a start to his loan spell. That said, he was one of Wales’s most consistent and important players in qualifying, and will likely anchor the back line alongside Tottenham’s Ben Davies.

Ethan Ampadu, midfielder

The versatile Spezia player featured heavily in Wales’s qualifying run and did a little bit of everything, playing in central midfield, as a wide midfielder and as a wing back. He’s even played as a center back in a back three for his Italian club side, where he is on loan from Chelsea.

Ampadu, 22, struggled in the most recent international window (as did most of the Wales side). But he is an excellent, energetic defensive-minded player that will likely slot into the midfield to provide some much-needed cover for a Welsh defense that didn’t record a clean sheet in any of its five UEFA Nations League matches.

World Cup History

- Second appearance

- Last appearance: 1958 (Quarterfinals)

- Best finish: Quarterfinals in 1958

Outlook and Expectations

The opportunities for Wales to prove itself among the world’s top footballing nations are clearly few and far between, but its group features the chance to do just that, with motivation in full supply. Group B features England, a nation for which both the soccer and political history (and rivalry) are extensive. It will not be an easy task to reach the knockout stage, but the draw is relatively favorable after the delayed playoff against Ukraine forced Wales into Pot 4. The United States and Iran, while both talented, are both flawed teams that could potentially fall.

Bale is likely in his last run in the national side, and most other key players and starters are right in their prime. If the Welsh are going to make another run in an international tournament with this generation of players, the time is now.

World Cup Squad

GOALKEEPERS: Adam Davies (Sheffield United), Wayne Hennssey (Nottingham Forest), Danny Ward (Leicester City)

DEFENDERS: Ethan Ampadu (Spezia), Ben Cabango (Swansea City), Ben Davies (Tottenham), Chris Gunter (Wimbledon), Tom Lockyer (Luton Town), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Connor Roberts (Burnley), Joe Rodon (Rennes), Nico Williams (Nottingham Forest)

MIDFIELDERS: Joe Allen (Swansea City), Rubin Colwill (Cardiff City), Dylan Levitt (Dundee United), Joe Morrell (Portsmouth), Aaron Ramsey (Nice), Matthew Smith (Milton Keynes Dons), Sorba Thomas (Huddersfield Town), Jonny Williams (Swindon Town), Harry Wilson (Fulham)

FORWARDS: Gareth Bale (LAFC), Mark Harris (Cardiff City), Daniel James (Fulham), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest), Kieffer Moore (Bournemouth)

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