Wales Set for Key World Cup Qualifier Against Austria
Wales take on Austria tonight, in a match that could go a long way to determining which team finishes at the top of their World Cup qualifying group. Both sides currently sit on three points, after winning their opening games in Group D, with Wales beating Moldova 4-0 and Austria winning 2-1 against Georgia.
It is expected that Chris Coleman will field an unchanged starting XI from their first game, as Aaron Ramsey is still recovering from a hamstring injury. This means that Andy King will continue to deputise for the Arsenal man. Other players also out of the match with injury are Simon Church, Jonny Williams and Danny Ward. Austria, on the other hand, have a nearly full strength squad to select from, with the only significant injury being to Martin Harnik.
The match has had an added edge added to it thanks to the comments made by Austria manager Marcel Koller’s claims that Wales were “lucky” to get as far as they did at Euro 2016. Coleman has fired back though, claiming that some teams simply “couldn’t handle the pressure” in France. Austria had been expected to do well at the recent tournament, however they were eliminated in the group stages, after only managing to get a single point.
Wales are currently ranked 16 places above Austria in the FIFA World Rankings. They currently sit in 10th place, while the Austrians – who are seeded second in the group, behind Wales – are ranked as 26th. The last game between the two sides took place in 2013, and Wales won 2-1, with Gareth Bale scoring one goal and creating the other. They’ll hope that the Real Madrid star is in such good form when the two teams meet this evening.
The Republic of Ireland are also in action tonight, and they are in the same group as Wales and Austria. They’ll host Georgia, as they look to notch up their first win in the qualifying rounds, after drawing their opening match against Serbia. They’ve been handed some good news ahead of the fixture, as Everton’s James McCarthy has been declared fit to play, however Martin O’Neill still has to deal with a long injury list, that contains players such as Harry Arter, Aiden McGeady and Daryl Murphy.
England will take on Malta on Saturday, while Scotland will play Lithuania on the same day Northern Ireland will also be in action on Saturday, as they take on San Marino.
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