FOOTBALL

AUTHOR: davidstewart

STAR PREVIEW Thurs: Wales v Austria

The final line-up for the 2022 World Cup will be finalised this week and Wales are aiming to be one of the nations on that list heading to Qatar this winter, but they face a tough test in their qualification semi-final on Thursday evening in the shape of Austria.

Wales – still under the stewardship of Rob Page – are just a couple of steps away from reaching their first World Cup since 1958 but will know that they cannot afford to get complacent if they are to get past a tough Austria side.

They enjoyed a strong qualifying campaign, though, with their only defeat coming to the world’s number-one ranked side Belgium. Page, under difficult circumstances, has really managed to galvanise the squad and turn them into a side that is hard to beat.

They also possess a very strong home record. Page’s side are currently enjoying a remarkable unbeaten streak of 16 matches unbeaten at their home stadium; a run stretching all the way back to December 2018.

Wales v Austria
FIFA World Cup 2022 Play-Off Semi-Final
S4C / Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Ultra HD

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
SEP 2017 FIFA WORLD CUP Wales 1-0 Austria
OCT 2016 FIFA WORLD CUP Austria 2-2 Wales
FEB 2013 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Wales 2-1 Austria
MAR 2005 FIFA WORLD CUP Austria 1-0 Wales
MAR 2005 FIFA WORLD CUP Wales 0-2 Austria
APR 1992 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Austria 1-1 Wales
NOV 1975 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP Wales 1-0 Austria
SEP 1974 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP Austria 2-1 Wales
NOV 1955 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Wales 1-2 Austria
MAY 1954 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Austria 2-0 Wales

Austria, on the other hand, have managed to qualify for the play-offs through their Nations League position, which was required after they finished in a rather disappointing 4th-position in their World Cup group.

They do have some quality players, however, with Marko Arnautovic a player that British football fans will know all about from his time in the Premier League with Stoke City and West Ham United. The former Hammers forward is currently plying his trade in Serie A with Bologna and has scored 9 goals in 26 appearances this season.

David Alaba, currently now with Real Madrid after an eleven-year stay with German champions Bayern Munich, is their captain, talisman and one of the nation’s genuinely world-class talents. He has 91 international caps to his name and scored 14 goals from defence in Austrian colours.

However, Wales’ superb home form is difficult to ignore and, if their key men of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey turn up with big performances, will feel confident that they could head through to a straight shoot-out for a World Cup spot. We’re backing Wales to win in 90 minutes.

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PROFIT/LOSS (MARCH 2022): LOSS -22.26 points
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