Wales go in search of their first World Cup win in 64 years when they take on Iran, while all four teams are in action in Group A on another busy day in Qatar.
This article was originally published on 24 November 2022
The Racing Post’s Chris Rivers has cast his over the three games not involving Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions, starting with a crunch showdown for Wales.
It was a far from smooth return to the World Cup stage for Wales against the USA on Monday night, but they managed to put an underwhelming first half behind them to claim a share of the spoils thanks largely to one man.
That one man wasn’t Gareth Bale, despite Wales’ all-time leading goalscorer tucking away the equalising penalty, but Kieffer Moore, whose introduction at half-time transformed the Dragons’ fortunes.
Moore’s excellent cameo is likely to earn him a starting berth in Al Rayyan and he appeals at 5/2 to get his name on the scoresheet having been in good form for Bournemouth before the World Cup, scoring three in his last three appearances.
Moore’s presence and the potential return to action of midfielder Joe Allen following a hamstring injury will serve to boost confidence in Wales, but anyone expecting them to ease to victory like England did against Iran could be in for a surprise.
There’s been a big fallout from Iran’s 6-2 hammering by England but a positive response is expected on the pitch from a Carlos Queiroz-led side with a history of being awkward customers.
Iran claimed a win over Uruguay in the build-up to the World Cup and could frustrate a Wales side without a win in six games. It could take time for Wales to break down the Iranians and the Draw-Wales double result at 4/1 is tempting.
Both teams to score at 21/20 may also hold some value with Iran rarely failing to score and Rob Page’s men keeping one clean sheet in their last 12 games.
Qatar were found wanting on their big day against Ecuador in the opening game of the tournament and life only gets tougher against the African champions.
This is a must-win game for both sides if they are to have a realistic chance of reaching the last-16, but Senegal are far more likely to respond to their defeat to the Netherlands than Qatar.
The Lions of Teranga were left feeling aggrieved by the 2-0 loss to the Dutch having won the shot count 14-9.
They lacked Sadio Mane’s talent in the final third on that occasion, but even without their talisman there’s still enough quality to see off Qatar.
Aliou Cisse’s men are well organised with the Netherlands failing to register a shot on target until the 84th minute and the chances of a Qatar goal look slim.
The host nation failed to have a shot on target against Ecuador and a Senegal win to nil at 11/8 appeals.
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal described the win over Senegal as a ”shoddy” performance by his team and they’ll need to improve on that showing against Ecuador if they are to secure a place in the last-16 with a game to spare.
The Dutch found it very challenging to play through the Senegalese lines and, while Memphis Depay could help them in that regard after a successful cameo from the bench, they don’t appeal at 4/5 against a well-drilled opponent.
Gustavo Alfaro has brought a well-balanced Ecuador side to Qatar, one’s that has only been beaten once in their last 16 outings.
West Ham fans might scoff at the suggestion of a sharp Enner Valencia, but Ecuador’s lead striker has an excellent goalscoring record for club and country recently and could prove a handful if Ecuador can target the Dutch’s weakest defender - Nathan Ake
Ecuador/Draw double chance at 19/20 is a solid choice if the South Americans can stay on their current trajectory.
The draw on its own at 5/2 might have legs too given the Dutch don’t need to win this game as they have the safety blanket of a clash with Qatar to come.