Friday, 03 February

World Cup 2022: Wales and England to go head-to-head in Group B

Sports News
Wales are ranked 19th in the world, England are ranked fifth

Wales and England go head-to-head in a mouth-watering final match in Group B with all to play for in the World Cup.

Robert Page's Wales team must beat England on Tuesday to stand any chance of progressing to the last 16 in a game that will be broadcast on BBC One and Radio 5 Live. 

Meanwhile, Gareth Southgate's side are aiming to qualify for the next round as group winners and to bounce back from an underwhelming performance against the United States.

In their only other World Cup appearance, in 1958, Wales reached the quarter-finals - can they do the same again or will favourites England cruise into the knockout stages?

'Everyone has weaknesses'

Currently bottom of Group B, Wales must beat England on Tuesday (kick-off 19:00 GMT) and hope the USA draw with Iran to progress to the last 16.

If the USA-Iran match does not end in a draw, Wales must beat England by four goals to advance.

One player fans are hoping will step up to the challenge is captain Gareth Bale, who along with midfielder Aaron Ramsey received criticism for his performance during the 2-0 defeat by Iran.

The former Real Madrid superstar is often the player many in Wales turn to but Bale said he "does not feel responsibility" to carry the side to victory.

"We're a team. We're a nation and we work hard for each other. We need to deliver as a team, it's not one person that needs to do anything," Bale said.

"Of course we'd have loved to be winning and doing a lot better but the reality is, football is hard. If it was that easy, we'd be favourites to win the World Cup."

Tuesday's task will certainly not be easy but Bale has hope that Wales can cause an upset against their local rivals.

"Everyone has weaknesses," he added. "We know how difficult it will be. England are a very good team.

"They're one of the favourites to win the tournament. We are under no illusions it will be hard. There's been a few shocks in the tournament already and there's no reason why we can't do the same."

'We want to win football matches'

After a lifeless 0-0 draw with the USA, England still have a job to do on Tuesday to qualify for the last 16.

Southgate's side will advance if they avoid a four-goal defeat, while a win would guarantee top spot.

It means Southgate may not be able to rotate the side as much as he would have liked.

There have been calls for the likes of Manchester City forward Phil Foden to start. He came on after 71 minutes in the 6-2 win over Iran and was unused in the draw with the United States.

But Southgate said the goal is "to win football matches" and that he must find the right formula.

"We have to balance freshness with stability and that's always a decision you're making when picking a team. We have a chance to win the group with a positive result," the England manager said.

"There's a lot resting on the game for both teams. Our performance is the key."

Meanwhile, Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson is relishing the battle with a rival home nation.

"It's going to be emotional. You have big challenges in football and hopefully we deal with them in the right way," he said.

'Wales have nothing to lose' - analysis

It felt quite telling when Robert Page, during his post-match news conference after Wales' 2-0 defeat by Iran, said: "We've got to prepare for another game against England, a local derby to finish off with."

To finish off with? Perhaps he just meant the group stage but, while Wales are not officially out of the World Cup yet, this did sound like an unconscious admission of defeat.

Wales have overcome the odds before in major tournaments, most notably by beating Belgium - then ranked second in the world - in their momentous Euro 2016 quarter-final.

But that was a better Wales team than the current one, and that was the last time Wales beat a team ranked above them in a competitive match.

They have nothing to lose against England. Page must learn lessons from the first two matches, be ready to change tactically and finally give Wales' fans in Qatar a performance to match their pride at seeing their country finally play at a World Cup.

Source: BBC