6 Reasons Why Wales Will Qualify For The 2018 World Cup After Stunning Euro 2016 Heroics


Just two months on from their Euro 2016 semi-final defeat at the hands of eventual winners Portugal, Wales start on the road to the next major tournament tonight as they welcome Moldova to the Cardiff City Stadium.

The memories the team created in France are likely to last a lifetime, but can they follow up that success by reaching a first World Cup finals since 1958?

Here are six reasons to be confident:

 

1 They Believe In Their System

Wales v Belgium - Quarter Final: UEFA Euro 2016 : News Photo

One of the oft-repeated laments about underachieving international sides is that they don’t have a system or a way of playing that they believe in, but Wales showed at the Euros that they have both.

With three central defenders and two wing-backs – usually Neil Taylor and Chris Gunter, neither of whom have ever shown much attacking flair at club level but usually perform above and beyond for their country – Chris Coleman created a system that sides found it difficult to play against in France, and that looks as though it’ll continue to be the case.

 

2 There Are Better Forward Options Now

FBL-EURO-2016-MATCH46-WAL-BEL : News Photo

Wales only scored 11 goals in their 10 qualifiers for Euro 2016, but Coleman had to put up with a severe striker shortage for large parts of the campaign.

Sam Vokes, his premier forward, was out injured for much of the time, but now he’s fit and playing in the Premier League with Burnley, looking sharp and bidding to build on his goal against Belgium out in France.

Hal Robson-Kanu – the unlikely Euros icon and a firm favourite with the fans – is also set for regular Premier League football, whilst there are a number of exciting youngsters coming through the ranks, including Liverpool teenagers Harry Wilson and Ben Woodburn.

 

3 The Other Teams Will Take Points Off Each Other

FBL-WC2014-IRL-SRB-FRIENDLY : News Photo

Austria, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Georgia and Moldova doesn’t look the easiest group on paper, but at least three of those sides are likely to take points off each other.

Of course, that means that they are also likely to take points off Wales, but if Coleman’s side are as solid as they were in Euros qualifying and the tournament itself then they’ll be confident of keeping clean sheets. Then from there it is up to their attack to flourish.

 

4 The Revenge Factor

Serbia v Wales  - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier : News Photo

During the Euros there were constant references to how far Wales have come under Coleman’s leadership, with one particular result standing out.

In the early stages of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, the Welsh were hammered 6-1 by Serbia in Novi Sad, a result which left them languishing in the lower reaches of the world rankings.

Coleman has since admitted that he considered quitting after that defeat despite being less than a year into the job, but now he’d love nothing more than to get revenge on the Serbians for inflicting his darkest hour upon him.

With this team, he can do that.

 

5 The Feelgood Factor

Wales Training and Press Conference : News Photo

Despite club commitments and the general sleepy feel to international breaks, it was reported that many Wales players turned up early for their training camp before the Moldova game, with Coleman greeting them by showing them videos of what they achieved in France in the summer.

This group of players is hardly likely to change over the course of the next two years because of a lack of alternatives, and so a determination to climb back onto the summit of international stage will drive them on.

Whereas there was a pressure on Wales to reach a first major tournament when they started the Euros qualifiers two years ago, now there is a craving to simply repeat what has gone before.

Chasing that high could well lead them back there again.

 

6 Gareth Bale, Obviously

Wales v Northern Ireland - Round of 16: UEFA Euro 2016 : News Photo

For as much as we can talk about the strengths and weaknesses of Wales’s Group D opponents, none of them have a player anywhere near as good as Gareth Bale.

The Real Madrid star relishes playing for country, and after having the summer of his life he looks revved up and ready to go again after starting the season with a couple of goals in a win at Real Sociedad.

Bale enjoys complete freedom when playing for Wales, and he flourishes in a role which serves to bring the best out of the players around him.

Whatever happens, he’ll be central to everything that Coleman’s side do, with another wild ride about to start on Monday night.

 

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