Wales are hosting Belgium in their final fixture of Group E in the World Cup qualifiers, as Robert Page’s side look to book a home semi-final for March’s play-offs. The hosts are without Gareth Bale for the visit of the world’s No1-ranked nation, after the Real Madrid forward injured his hamstring in the 5-1 win over Belarus on Saturday.
With a spot in the play-offs already secured thanks to their Nations League performance, a win for Wales would see them join Portugal, Italy, Scotland, Russia and Sweden as one of the six-best second-placed sides, while a draw should also be enough depending on results in the matches featuring Turkey and Netherlands in Group G.
Defeat against Roberto Martinez’s side could therefore see Wales face one of the those sides away from home in the play-offs, with the Czech Republic advancing as the runners-up in Group E. Belgium are without a number of their star names, including Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois, and despite Bale’s absence, Aaron Ramsey has urged his side to finish their group campaign on a high at the Cardiff City Stadium.
“It was our target to finish second in the group and that hasn’t changed,” Ramsey said. “There are great teams that we could potentially draw, but we just have to concentrate on this game and not worry about what is to come in the future. The games in March are going to be huge for us as these opportunities to qualify for a World Cup don’t come around very often.”
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Wales vs Belgium talking points: Suspension concerns
Ethan Ampadu is banned and Wales will be walking a disciplinary tightrope against Belgium. No fewer than seven players – Aaron Ramsey, Chris Gunter, Wilson, Joe Allen, Joe Morrell, James Lawrence and Sorba Thomas – are one booking away from suspension and missing the play-off semi-final in March. As it stands, yellow cards are carried into the play-offs and Wales have suffered this way in big games before. Ramsey and Ben Davies both missed the Euro 2016 semi-final against Portugal after picking up two bookings in the tournament.
Wales vs Belgium: Team news
Wales XI: Ward, Roberts, Mepham, Rodon, Davies, Williams, Morrell, Allen, Ramsey, James, Moore
Belgium XI: Casteels, Castagne, Boyata, Theate, Meunier, Witsel, De Bruyne, T Hazard, Vanaken, De Ketelaere, Origi
Wales vs Belgium talking points: Moore boost
Kieffer Moore’s return is a massive plus for Wales. The Cardiff target man was banned for the Belarus game but has scored more Wales goals (seven) than anyone since making his debut in September 2019. Page named Moore on the bench for the away fixture in March, preferring to utilise quicker players and was rewarded with a sublime Harry Wilson opener. But the 6ft 5in Moore is capable of inflicting serious aerial damage on a Belgian defence weakened by injuries.
Wales vs Belgium talking points: Bale blow
Gareth Bale was the centre of attention in Wales’ 5-1 win over Belarus on Saturday. The Real Madrid forward became only the second Welshman to reach the 100-cap milestone, having spent two months on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. Bale came off at half-time and said later that it was always the plan to play 45 minutes. But Wales boss Robert Page has confirmed that Bale will not start against Belgium and might not be risked at all from the bench.
No Gareth Bale tonight as Wales face Belgium
Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wales’ World Cup qualifier against Belgium.
Bale won his 100th cap in the 5-1 victory over Belarus on Saturday after two months out with a hamstring injury but came off after 45 minutes.
Wales boss Robert Page had said that Real Madrid forward Bale would not start in Cardiff on Tuesday but may feature from the bench.
But Bale has been omitted from the 23-man matchday squad that Wales have submitted to Uefa.
“He is going to be stiff,” Page said of Bale on Monday. “He has not played for a couple of months and to throw him in was a big ask from a physical point of view.
“It’s frustrating for him. He made a tremendous effort to get fit for the [Belarus] game and he takes credit for that.”
Gareth Bale ruled out of Wales squad for World Cup qualifier against Belgium
The Dragons captain made his 100th appearance for his country on Saturday
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