AustriaFIFA World CupVS
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Despite a battling qualifying campaign, Wales were forced to settle for second spot in Group E as Belgium coasted at the top with a five-point cushion.
Nevertheless, despite the disappointment of missing out on a direct path to Qatar, they’ll be buoyed by their form in qualifying having suffered just one defeat while holding the Belgians to a draw last time out.
As for Austria, although they finished in a lowly fourth place in Group F, they secured their spot in the playoffs courtesy of topping their UEFA Nations League group.
In turn, they’ll be hoping to make the most of their opportunity with both nations hoping to build on their journey to the Round of 16 at Euro 2020 as they further establish themselves as regular participants at major tournaments.
That said, you have to go back to 1958 when Wales last reached the World Cup, while the Austrians last featured in 1998.
Continue reading for our expert football betting tips for the clash.
Wales come into this encounter very much as the side in form, having won three and drawn three in their last six outings in qualifying.
In contrast, Austria suffered defeats to Denmark, Scotland and Israel, two of which were on the road, and so question marks could be raised over the strength of their squad.
Coupled with the fact that Wales are unbeaten in the last three meetings between these sides, they will certainly go into this clash with confidence of being able to advance.
These two nations scored 33 goals combined in 18 games, but the likes of Germany, England and the Netherlands all either matched or beat that tally on their own. Austria conceded 17 goals compared to just nine for Wales, and so that should give the hosts confidence of being the better side at either end of the pitch.
With that in mind, the odds of 5/4(SportNation) – available as well with all of the reliable bookmakers – for Over 2.5 Goals are appealing with a hungry Wales side looking to be clinical in front of their home fans in Cardiff.
As noted above, the form is very much with Wales heading into the showdown based on the respective results for the two sides in the conclusion of their qualifying campaigns.
A 5-1 win over Belarus, followed by that draw with Belgium (with both games also being played at the Cardiff City Stadium) will give Wales plenty of belief that they can put in another strong performance in front of their supporters.
Rob Page will ideally hope to call on his more experienced players, with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale still in the mix, but he may well have to lean on alternative options and his younger stars, given the lack of playing time this season for that star duo.
That combination of experience and youth will be critical for their short-term aspirations, though, and the star quality that they have could ultimately make the difference in a tight game like this.
Conversely, Austria will be concerned with their form away from home in their most recent games, having suffered a 5-2 defeat at Israel and a 1-0 loss in Denmark at the end of last year.
That said, they certainly clicked in the two games that followed that latter loss, scoring eight goals in wins over Israel and Moldova at home, but given the solidity of that Wales defence, this will be a much tougher assignment for them.
Much like his Wales counterpart, Austria boss Franco Foda will be desperate to have key senior players available for this one, with David Alaba, Marcel Sabitzer and Marko Arnautovic amongst others critical to their chances.
While they have match-winning players, their defensive frailties in qualifying will be a concern, as they will need to be organised and disciplined if they have a chance of advancing.
These two nations have met eight times previously, with Wales winning three, Austria winning five, along with two draws.
As ever, though, the importance of a head-to-head record lies in the more recent meetings, and that very much leans toward Wales, who have won two and drawn one in the last three.
Those two wins were both at home, with Wales scoring three and conceding one, with the latter in 2017 being the most recent encounter, which also took place in Cardiff.
The Cardiff City Stadium holds just over 33,000, and it will certainly create a great atmosphere as the home faithful back their team.
Wales have played 24 games there, with a 45.83 win-percentage having picked up 11 victories along with seven draws and six defeats. They’ve scored 32 goals in those games, while conceding just 18.
In turn, that would all suggest that it’s going to be a difficult task for Austria to come away with a victory.
The importance of home advantage can’t be downplayed in one-off playoff games such as this, especially when the home side have such a strong record on home soil, and particularly at the stadium in question.
Austria’s form on the road in their last two games will be a concern, and while Wales have different types of threats and dynamics to their team to cause their rivals problems depending on the situation, there still seems to be an over-reliance for the visitors on certain individuals who have proven themselves in big games.
As a result, Wales will be confident of advancing and having the quality needed at either end of the pitch to make the difference.