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Spain’s win in Greece on Thursday has guaranteed Wales’ place in the World Cup play-offs courtesy of their Nations League position, so Robert Page’s side should be able to relax and enjoy themselves against group whipping boys Belarus. Wales looked on course to finish second in their group in any case and will go three points clear of the Czech Republic if they win on Saturday as expected, not that it really matters anymore.
Wales grabbed a dramatic late winner in the reverse fixture against Belarus in Kazan in September after some truly atrocious defending had put them on the brink of a humiliating defeat, but they should be a good deal more comfortable here.
Saturday 7.45pm – Wales v Belarus
Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Football
It should be a relaxed atmosphere in the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday with Wales under no pressure whatsoever, and they should have little trouble putting a Belarus side that has lost its last six consecutive group games to the sword.
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Belarus may have lost their last six group games, but they have shown a certain degree of fight since they went down 8-0 to runaway group leaders Belgium in their second group game. Since then, they have lost 1-0 to both Czech Republic and Belgium, while they came within seconds of taking a point off Wales before Gareth Bale broke their hearts.
They should find some joy on Saturday against a rickety Welsh defence that has conceded seven goals in their six group games to date, including two against Saturday’s opponents. The Welsh defending in Kazan left a lot to be desired and Belarus were quick to take full advantage.
Their defending in the Prague was not much better and there is a chance, albeit slight, that Belarus will score in Cardiff. At the other end, Wales should have little trouble against the weakest side in their group.
Belarus have conceded 19 goals in their seven group games to date and are yet to keep a clean sheet. Wales should have little trouble matching the three-goal tally that they managed in Kazan.
It has not been a vintage year for Gareth Bale by any means. The Real Madrid forward has scored just once for the Galacticos since returning from a loan move at Tottenham, while he has netted just three goals in 11 appearances for Wales in 2021 – with all of those goals coming against Belarus in Minsk.
If ever there was a chance to rediscover his goalscoring touch, however, it is on Saturday. Belarus have faced 113 shots in their seven group games to date at a rate of almost 15 per game, and Wales can expect to at least match that tally.
Gareth Bale, who averages more than four shots a game with Wales, can be expected to have at least four or five efforts on goal on Saturday and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he bags a brace at the least.
Harry Wilson has never been shy of having a shot on goal. The Fulham midfielder has averaged 2.9 shots per game in the Championship this season and although that drops rather significantly to 1.2 shots per game in the World Cup Qualifiers, he is likely to get plenty of opportunities on Saturday against an opponent that seems to invite shots on goal.
Wales are likely to dominate the ball and should pepper the Belarussian goal with shots given that they have absolutely nothing to lose. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Wilson wind one or two up from the edge of the box on Saturday, and it would be similarly unsurprising to see them find the target.
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