Belgium vs Wales: talking points ahead of Nations League tie

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

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Wales travel to Belgium on Thursday to play their penultimate match before the World Cup in November.

The Dragons are bottom of their Nations League section, while second-placed Belgium try to hunt group leaders Holland.

Here are the main talking points surrounding the clash in Brussels.

bale wait

Skipper Gareth Bale joined the Wales squad for the first time as a Los Angeles FC player. But Bale’s starting role is in doubt after his late arrival from California. The 33-year-old came on as a 62nd-minute substitute in LAFC’s 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo in the early hours of Monday morning (UK time). Bale only arrived in Wales on Tuesday afternoon, and boss Robert Page will assess the effects of jet lag before deciding whether he starts in Brussels or takes a place on the bench.

Teen talent

Teenagers Luke Harris and Jordan James could have a chance to claim the World Cup against Belgium and Poland this week. The midfield pair have been called up following injuries to Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Harry Wilson. Harris, who has a remarkable goalscoring record for Fulham’s age sides, turned just 17 in April and could become the fourth youngest Welshman to play for his country. Hereford-born James, 18, is lucky after impressing for Birmingham and returned to the Wales fold after playing for England Under-20 in March.

Revitalized Rodon

Joe Rodon swapped Tottenham for Rennes in Ligue 1 this season (PA)

(PA Archive)

Page was delighted with the summer transfer window which saw much of his squad switch clubs in a bid to buy time ahead of the World Cup. But Joe Rodon’s loan from Tottenham to Rennes has more than delighted him. Rodon was a cornerstone of the squad that qualified for Qatar, but Page had expressed concern over the lack of first-team football from the centre-half. Rodon started in France, producing measured performances in his impressive start to the Ligue 1 campaign.

Relegation battle

Wales’ Nations League campaign has suffered from late goals (David Davies/PA)

(PA wire)

Wales will be hoping their stay in the Nations League top flight will not be short-lived. Late goals haunted their campaign with points against Poland and Holland twice conceded in the death. Despite those three defeats, Wales can still avoid relegation – and a win might be enough. Even if they lose in Brussels, beating Poland in Cardiff on Sunday could be enough to keep them in League A, depending on the Poles’ result against the Netherlands on Thursday.

Familiar Enemies

Wales and Belgium have seen each other a lot over the past 10 years. It will be their ninth meeting in the last decade with the scoreline so far – two wins each and four draws. Wales’ victories came in Euro 2016 qualifying, with Bale scoring the winner on an electric evening in Cardiff, and the quarter-final of that tournament itself, 3-1 at Lille. Brennan Johnson’s late equalizer in Cardiff three months ago secured Wales’ only point in this Nations League campaign.

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Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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