Wales v Iran: Bale can shine for Dragons again
Wales v Iran betting tips, odds and preview
It’s crunch time for Wales and Iran as they go head-to-head looking for their first win of the World Cup.
The Welsh took a point from their opening clash with the USA on Monday after the Iranians had leaked six goals in losing to England.
Friday’s match at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium kicks off at 10am and is live on BBC.
That man again
It had to be Gareth Bale.
When Wales need rescuing he steps up and his late penalty against USA, rifled into the net above Matt Turner, earned a point they looked a million miles away from getting during the first half of that encounter.
Bale, who scored twice in the 2-1 win over Austria and the only goal against Ukraine as Wales navigated their way to Qatar via the play-offs, heads the goalscorer markets for this clash ahead of team-mate Kieffer Moore and Iran’s Mehdi Taremi.
He is 10/3 for the opening goal but Wales will have to start better than they did against USA to have any chance of drawing first blood.
They were outplayed for the opening 45 minutes of their first match and boss Robert Page did say afterwards “lessons had been learned” from that 1-1 draw.
He also said Wales remain outsiders to qualify for the knockout rounds – they are 6/5 to go through, USA are 5/6 while Iran are 5/1 behind favourites England – but they can give their hopes a huge shot in the arm with a win.
Hitting the mark
Wales’ draw with USA was an improvement on their recent Nations League form – they finished bottom of Group A4 after one draw and five defeats from clashes with Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland.
It will be Group B for them the next time the Nations League rolls around but a small positive they can take from recent results is they usually score.
Wales have now found the net in 13 of their last 14 outings since a goalless draw with Estonia in September last year.
Iran have a similar record, having drawn a blank just once in 21 games – South Korea were the only team to keep them out, in a qualifier back in March.
So, both teams to score at 21/20 goes straight into our Wales v Iran predictions.
With Page’s side expected to make a faster start than matchday one and Carlos Queiroz needing a quick response to the England hammering, have a look at both teams to score in the first half at 5/1.
Moore the merrier
Bale may have won and converted the penalty against USA on Monday but Moore can lay claim to being the early star of Wales’ first World Cup campaign for 64 years.
He has surely played his way into the starting XI after coming off the bench and changing the game against the United States.
Wales had offered nothing until Moore’s introduction but he got them going and dragged his fellow forward players into things.
Moore made the team tick and his scoring record when he pulls on the red jersey is not too shabby, nine in 29 for his country.
He also arrived in the Middle East having bagged three in as many games for Bournemouth just before the Premier League was put on hold for the tournament.
Wales v Iran team news
Page has a full squad to choose from after Joe Allen, who began training with the main group on Wednesday, was passed fit.
Page said: “Joe got through his fitness test, so that’s good news. He’s fit and raring to go.”
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All odds and markets are correct as of the date of publication