Prior to the current International Break, the standings of Group D looked like this:
On the 12th of June this year, a Bale-less (suspension) Wales side did themselves no favours by drawing 1-1 to Serbia to find themselves third in the group with only eight points (same as fourth placed Austria).
Chris Coleman’s Welshmen were in need of a must-win in yesterday’s match to keep their World Cup hopes alive, and they did manage to do just that. Good news came in for Wales when they found out that the Irish had dropped points against Georgia.
It is important to note that Wales can win all matches from hereon and still not qualify for the World Cup. Wales need the Republic of Ireland and Serbia to take points off each other and win all their games themselves.
Gareth Bale was subjected to whistles and jeers by the supporters of the very club he plays for when they dropped points against Valencia C.F. But, as Bale was back in his hometown to try and help his country to qualify for the national team, he was relaxed and calm, for he did not have to worry about ‘fans’ waiting outside the stadium to attack him and his car. Bale could miss a 90th minute penalty in a hypothetical World Cup Final and the Welsh fans would still forgive him.
Really good to meet the fans at training yesterday. Hope you all had a great day! pic.twitter.com/0Sf2Z35zky— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) August 30, 2017
Wales went into the match missing key players (Neil Taylor and Joe Allen were suspended). Gareth Bale was back after having served his suspension vs Serbia.
Bale got the crowd on their feet with his first touch with a thrilling run towards goal but his shot was wide.
Wales came into this match adopting an aggressive stance looking forward to push up the pitch relying on blistering runs from Gareth Bale and Tom Lawrence.
Wales’ number 10, Aaron Ramsey, created several opportunities to deal damage to Austria, with his first coming in the ninth minute when he slipped through the Austrian defense to let loose a left-footed shot from the edge of the box only for it to go over target.
The only goal of the game came through 17 year old Ben Woodburn who came on as a substitute. The Liverpool forward smashed a powerful shot from 30 yards out into the bottom left corner.
The Welsh defense looked shaky at first, but ended up being solid in the end. Wales have lost the lead twice against Austria during their away fixture and have lost the lead against Serbia as well. Chris Coleman was smart in not committing too many men forward after Woodburn’s 74th minute strike.
Wales are now still third, and to finish first in this group seems to be a difficult task as it requires other nations to drop points. Wales now have to face last placed Moldova on fifth of September, and then Georgia and Ireland in October’s International Break.
Needless to say Wales need to win all three of those games and pray the other nations drop points amongst each other. Wales definitely have easier fixtures to play as compared to Serbia who have to go through Ireland and Austria, meaning the three sides could each take points off one another.
Gareth Bale was immense for Wales. He was everywhere on the pitch with his ever-so-impressive work-rate — helping out in attack, going back deep to get the ball up the pitch to his teammates and even recovering balls in dangerous positions.
A goal for Gareth Bale would have done wonders for his confidence, but he was just plain unlucky. He probably had his best game since returning from his ankle injury. There is still a long way to go for him. But, for now we can rest assure that he is moving in the right direction.