Wales managed to qualify for the World Cup for only the second time, and the first since 1958 when they bowed out in the quarter finals against Brazil. They had to do it the hard way through the play-offs, with Gareth Bale scoring the winner against Ukraine in a 1-0 win after they beat Austria 2-1 in the semis.
That came after they finished second only to World Cup hopefuls Belgium, with one loss from eight games. The stats covered below are from that qualifying campaign, and run through goals, shots, corners, and cards so you can pick a winning bet builder in every Wales World Cup outing. Check out the Stats Pack Guide if you need more assistance in your selections.
Four wins, three draws and a loss, Wales may not have dominated any stats metric but managed to do the dirty work and grind results out to qualify ahead of the Czech Republic in Group E.
Despite recording an xG of 1.53, precise finishing from Gareth Bale in particular, pushed them to 14 goals in 8 and some vital narrow wins.
The stats emphasise just how narrow those wins were, and its testament to their character for eking out wins like their 2-1 and 1-0 wins in the all-important play-offs.
They narrowly outdo their opponents in shots and shots on target, but they tend to take 0.20 corners more on average per 90. That may explain why their opponents received more cards too, as they show their frustration from being on the wrong side of the score line.
Rob Page led his Wales side to their first World Cup in 64 years and was treated to a four-year deal as a result.
During their qualifying campaign, he mixed up his formation and swapped between a 4-2-3-1 and a 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2 depending on the opposition. He adopted the 4-2-3-1 in 32.6% of the games but adopted 3 at the back in both play-offs and the subsequent Nations League outings.
So it’s very likely Wales will set up in a 3-4-2-1 with Gareth Bale the tip of the arrow at the top. There is a large Welsh Premier League contingent with Fulham’s Dan James and Harry Wilson, Tottenham’s Ben Davies, Bournemouth’s Chris Mepham and Kieffer Moore, and Nottingham Forest’s trio Brennan Johnson, Neco Williams, and Wayne Hennessey all pushing to start.
PLAYER SHOTS AND SHOTS ON TARGET
Gareth Bale will want to go out with a fight, in what could be his final international competition. He was of course the main man in their qualifiers as he averaged over 4 attempts per 90 and 39.2% of them made it on target.
The other attacking options managed over a shot on target per 90 too, with Brennan Johnson (1.27) and Kieffer Moore (1.17) making an impact when they were on the pitch.
Aaron Ramsey is also one to watch, currently at Ligue 1 side Nice, the midfielder made his trade as a box-to-box midfielder at Arsenal. He managed over 2 shots per 90 from his deep runs in the qualifiers.
PLAYER GOALS AND ASSISTS
It would be cruel to imply Gareth Bale dragged Wales to Qatar single-handedly, given the performance of the Welsh squad, but he played a leading role as he often does in the red of Wales.
He contributed to 6 goals and 3 assists in 7 qualifiers, including the all-important winner against Ukraine in the final.
But Wales are no one-man team as Dan James (4), Harry Wilson (4), and Aaron Ramsey (3) proved with their goal contributions.
It’s also an option to deploy Bale as a wide man and put Kieffer Moore as the furthest man forward. He managed 2 goals in 6 appearances.
WALES CARDS (FOR)
Kieffer Moore may have made only 6 appearances in the qualifiers, but his card tally doesn’t reflect that. He grabbed himself a place in the referee’s book 3 times as a direct result of making 4.22 fouls per 90 minutes of football.
Joe Morrell is another to watch if he takes his place in the team, as he managed 2 cards in 8 appearances and has also managed 2 cards in just 7 appearances for Portsmouth this season.
Whether Ethan Ampadu plays in midfield or defence, he’s also not a bad shout for a card.
WALES CARDS (AGAINST)
In terms of fouls drawn, no one comes close to Harry Wilson who was fouled 3.16 times per 90 in the qualifiers.
Neco Williams was also fouled 1.76 times per 90, and averages over a foul drawn per 90 for Forest this season too (1.01), while the other wing-back in Connor Roberts is also one to watch. Sadegh Moharrami (Iran) and Antonee Robinson (USA) could be the ones on the refs radar.
Up top, Gareth Bale (1.73) and Kieffer Moore (1.64) are eager to draw a foul and will be a tough opposition for the likes of Harry Maguire (England) and Walker Zimmerman (USA) in the groups.