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Team-by-team guide: 2022 Wales World Cup preview

To prepare you for the tournament, The18 has launched team-by-team previews for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. This is the preview for Group B's Wales.

Wales World Cup 2022 Preview

World Cup appearances: Second 

Best finish: Quarterfinals (1958) 

How they got here: In a difficult UEFA qualifying group with world power Belgium and a Czech Republic side that reached the quarters of Euro 2020, Wales secured second place and then navigated the playoffs with victories over Austria and Ukraine at a supercharged Cardiff City Stadium. 

Coach: Rob Page (Welsh) 

Strongest XI: (5-2-3) Wayne Hennessey; Neco Williams, Ben Davies, Joe Rodon, Ethan Ampadu, Connor Roberts; Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey; Daniel James, Kieffer Moore, Gareth Bale  

Injuries: Does Gareth Bale count? Tom Lawrence (knee) 

What's to like: This is the Welsh golden generation that captured the imagination when firing the Dragons to a first-ever European Championship and lofty third-place finish in 2016, but they've gone even further by taking the nation to its first World Cup since its only appearance in 1958. 

If the game is about the Greek aphorism "know thyself," then Wales is off to an early lead in Qatar with centurions Gareth Bale, Wayne Hennessey and Chris Gunter joined by the hugely experienced trio of Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies and Joe Allen. 

Wales has continuously gone toe-to-toe with the European elite over the last few years, and if the team can stay healthy in Qatar — especially Bale, who's frankly an unstoppable force when he puts the Dreigiau on his chest — they've earned the right to be considered favorites to advance from Group B alongside England.   

What's not to like: Bale is now a limited player in MLS with LAFC; Ramsey is struggling with a hamstring injury in France with Nice; Davies is recovering from a hairline fracture at Spurs; Allen has his own hamstring setback at Swansea. If Wales has all its pieces against the U.S., they should be able to handle the tournament's youngest team. But even in that best-case start for the Dragons, how will these players piece themselves together for the subsequent clashes with Iran and England?

This is the golden generation's last hurrah, but they certainly showed their age at Euro 2020 when Denmark thrashed them 4-0 in the Round of 16.  

X-Factor: Brennan Johnson. The 21-year-old made a major breakthrough with Nottingham Forest in the Championship last season, scoring 16 goals to help the club earn promotion to the Premier League. He's enjoyed a fine start in the top flight with two goals this season, and Johnson's a popular call to be included in the starting lineup after scoring in the Nations League against Belgium and the Netherlands. 

Best hair: Gareth Bale

Embed from Getty Images

Most likely to fuck it all up: Daniel James. It's really easy to imagine James streaking behind the backline with Wales' best opportunity, only to screw it wide of the far post. 

What will make this a good World Cup: Advancing to the last-16 while eliminating the USA (or England!) would certainly be cause for massive celebrations.  

Bonus prediction: Americans break the internet trying to discover how tall Kieffer Moore is   

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