Wales drew 1-1 with the USA in their World Cup opener, with Gareth Bale disallowing Timothy Weah’s goal in the first half. Rob Page’s team had entered the tournament hoping to emulate the class of 2016, which reached the semi-finals of the European Championship. But even though they weren’t at their best, they were able to exit the matchup with one point. Express Sport will now take a look at five things we learned.
Bale in decline but remains a legend
It would not be an understatement to say that, for years, Wales have relied on Bale’s brilliance to get them through.
The Los Angeles FC striker had a record 40 goals to his name, with his first arrival back in 2006, prior to the tournament.
Bale looked leggy against the USA, as if the hopes and expectations of a nation were hanging over him.
But he stepped up when it mattered most, converting a penalty to earn his team a point and increase their chances of reaching the round of 16.
He is not the same player that he was at Real Madrid and Tottenham and that was clear. Page’s side requires a new hero and successor to take up the mantle, but Bale will undoubtedly do so for now.
Allen was missed despite the draw
In the first half, Wales had just 33 per cent of the ball, and the USA managed an impressive 67 per cent.
And it became clear, pretty quickly, that they missed Joe Allen.
Allen, like Bale, is not the player he used to be. But the Swansea midfielder is still capable of dictating games and, in the first half, it was clear he was sorely missed.
Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah were superior in the first half, with Wales unable to string two passes together.
Page’s side actually entered the interval with a 54 percent success rate, a stat that says a lot about how inferior they were on the night.
USA beat Wales
The United States have always done fairly well in the big tournaments, although they never really came close to winning the competition, except in 2002, when they reached the quarterfinals.
Let’s be honest. It won’t happen this year either.
However, it was impressive to see the way they carried themselves on the pitch, particularly in the first half, even if they were affected at the end.
Manager Gregg Berhalter placed his side in a 4-3-3 formation and Wales were unable to cope, with the aforementioned trio of McKennie, Adams and Musah appearing on the grandest stage of all.
The USA may not appear to be a world leader, but their energetic and entrepreneurial display suggests they will have a good chance of making it out of the pack, regardless of tonight’s draw.
Ramsey is not a risk worth taking.
Before the match, Aaron Ramsey was a doubt with the Nice star struggling to regain fitness in time for the matchup.
Page, knowing his side needed to get off to a good start, opted to roll the dice starting it.
But it wasn’t a risk worth taking, as the number 10 looked tired and out of shape throughout the matchup.
Ramsey was impressive during his spells at Cardiff and Arsenal, but since moving to Juventus in the 2019 summer transfer window, he has regressed.
Like Bale, he is a shadow of himself. Wales need to bring in new talent; otherwise his first World Cup in Qatar will be his last. For now, however, they still have hope of emerging in the Middle East with their heads held high.
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