World Cup 2022 : Wales’ Kieffer Moore was the real story of the night in my opinion, despite Gareth Bale getting all the press after their match with the United States.
With fewer than 10 minutes to play and our team down by one goal, of course I wanted Bale to take the penalty. He handled the pressure to help us score an equalizer in a tense scenario.
Yet, Moore was the one who turned the tide in our favor. After that, I find it hard to believe that he won’t start Friday’s game against Iran. I was shocked he didn’t start in the opener against the United States.
After coming in as a substitute for Bournemouth in the second half, the attacker had an immediate impression. At first, he was involved by carrying the ball on his chest and then running along the passageway. He advanced us 40 yards up the field and established the tempo for the remainder of the contest.
Moore deserves more praise for his accomplishments
Moore has given us the target man we’d been lacking, but he doesn’t simply stand in the center of the field and wait for the ball to be sent his way.
Speaking as a centre-half who has faced him, I can tell you how much of a nuisance he is to deal with, and how underappreciated he is in every facet of his play.
In 2019, when I was with Bristol City and he was with Wigan, we faced off in the Championship. I didn’t let him score on me (of course not), but that was when I realized, “This guy is going to be a Premier League player very soon.”
For starters, Moore is 6ft 5in but he is a lot more mobile than you would imagine him to be – he can go down the flanks and run with the ball under pressure too.
Also impressive is his first-rate touch. He is incredibly shrewd at constructing plays and will hold the ball up anywhere on the field, as he demonstrated against the United States.
You saw it since he helped set up the play that resulted in our penalty. He’s very orderly in the corner, and he holds onto the ball until he can receive some help.
After the interval, Moore was consistently there when we tried to play long balls into open areas, where they had often been returned in the first half.
He pulled Bale and Aaron Ramsey into the game more because they could move up the field and be certain that the ball was going to stay, and feed our wing-backs, Neco Williams and Connor Roberts too.
Everything on the squad benefited from that. Although I still believe that the midfield is an area where we need to improve, the defense would be able to rest and the midfielders would be able to push up against Iran.
Key to everything is Allen’s comeback
It’s strange that a sketch may be interpreted in two distinct ways, depending on how you obtained it.
After conceding so late, the United States will feel like they lost the game, whereas we ended on such a high note; the point was crucial to our prospects of advancing to the round of 16, and we now have momentum. Everything about it makes me happy.
Nonetheless, it is impossible to deny that we got off to a terrible start. As a player or commentator on Welsh games, I can say with confidence that that was one of the worst halves I’ve ever seen.
The way we began showed how much of a miss Joe Allen was in the center, but Moore made all the difference in how we reacted.
He was not healthy enough to appear on Monday and has not played since sustaining a hamstring injury in mid-September but I have got everything crossed that he makes the Iran game, because we need him.
|Wales’ remaining fixtures: Group B|
|Fri, 25 Nov||Iran||Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan|
|Tue, 29 Nov||England||Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan|
Without him, the United States midfield was unstoppable in the first half, and I really doubt they would have scored if Allen had been on the field.
Their attack was direct down the center, and Allen, who is more adept at controlling space than marking an individual player, would have been able to anticipate the threat and protect the vital middle ground.
If he doesn’t make it, we’ll need to find someone else to play next to Ethan Ampadu and provide us some more depth before the game even starts.
If we can maintain possession and launch waves of attack as England did against Iran, it would be fantastic. Then we could put Ramsey and others like him to use in the opposing half if they weren’t held back.
Furthermore, I’m not sure we need a back five right now. Even though Iran scored twice against England and pose a danger, all of our defenders are OK playing in a four, and doing so would allow us to play with an additional attacker.
When do we go from here? This is a must-win situation
We can’t afford to lose against Iran, so we have to approach this matchup as if we had won.
Confidence, I believe, may be drawn from seeing England demolish them. The guys won’t be taking Iran lightly, but that game shown that they can be beaten if they play on the front foot, show positivity, and control possession.
Our goal has always been to enter the match against England having already secured four points, and we are in an excellent position to do that.
It would imply that we are still in the running to advance from our group, which is something I certainly didn’t expect to be saying at halftime of the game against the United States.