World Cup 2022: ‘Brain in the middle, legs wide open’ – Wales need against Iran


Host Nation: Qatar Dates: From November 20 to December 18 Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Daily TV listingsFull coverage details

It won’t be easy wales Against Iran, but we have to win, and we can learn from England to get the result we need.

I know we don’t have the same quality across our squad as England, but the way we won 6-2 still has to be Rob Page’s planning for Friday’s game.

I’m talking about the tempo they set and how they moved the ball quickly, got into wide areas and then into the box.

They kept pressuring the Iranian defense, they kept asking them questions…and we finally saw what happened.

We’ve got the players to do that as well, but we’re going to need the right formation to build the attacks the way I want them to, and for me that means switching to flats at the back, again, like England did.

Whatever Page’s plan is, Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and – hopefully – Joe Allen will have a crucial role to play in making it work, but they’re all in their 30s now and can’t do it on their own.

So we have to pick the people around them with the energy to give us the intensity we need and keep our brains in the middle of the field and our legs wide open.

Brennan Johnson and Daniel James are young, fearless and hungry. Let’s be positive, and leave them out to run at Iran’s defence, as the likes of Bukayo Saka did for Gareth Southgate’s side on Monday.

November 25, Friday Iran Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
November 29, Tuesday England Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan

Iran’s plan could be different

It goes without saying that Kieffer Moore has to start this game for Wales after his impact off the bench against the USA, but this time we need to feed him more in the box rather than use him to get us up the field because. he will also score goals.

Moore almost equalized against USA when he headed in from a corner, but we couldn’t find a cross in front of goal in open play and that’s the kind of service I want James and Johnson to deliver. the time

By the way, I’m not taking Iran lightly here, and I certainly don’t expect this game to be easy because England knocked them out.

Our task is clearer after the first game and the draw with the USA, but it really is make or break for Iran after losing their first game so badly.

They’ll see how the USA caused us problems in the first half and they can come out and press up top as well. The fact that they didn’t try to do that against England, in the toughest match in Group B, doesn’t mean they won’t do it to us.

And, while they usually play quite cautiously under Carlos Queiroz and like to defend deep, they will have to attack at some point.

They scored twice against England, remember, so they are a goal threat. If we go ahead, they will come at us for another defeat and because they are out.

Why fluid formation is key

Chart showing Gabbidon's Wales XI to face Iran: Hennessey, Roberts, Rodon, Davies, Johnson, Allen, Ramsey, James, Bale, Moore

Whatever Iran try to do, our aim has to be to dominate possession against them like England did, and play in their own half.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the 3-5-2 formation we started with against the USA will help us with that.

It’s not fluid whether we’re in possession or out, and our players don’t have enough options when they get on the ball in different areas – the full-backs, for example, have no one open in front of them. They therefore have to return the ball to the center unless an inside fast ball is on in the middle of the field.

So I’d go with the same 4-4-2 formation I expected to start the first game, with Johnson and James ahead for a 4-2-3-1. the ball

Then you feed Neco Williams and Connor Roberts and also look for them to go for the overlaps like Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier did with England. Suddenly we are a much more dangerous team.

4-4-2 suits Ramsey too

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey
Bale has 109 caps for Wales, while Ramsey has 76. They have scored a total of 61 goals between them and played together 54 times for the senior Wales team.

Playing 4-4-2 is the key to getting the best out of Aaron Ramsey as well. He didn’t have much of a game against USA and gave the ball away more times than I’ve ever seen, but eventually he tried to find another way to affect the game and started running beyond Moore to try to move it. about the opposition players.

Against Iran we really want him on the ball though, or getting behind Moore and Gareth Bale late into the box to get on the end of those crosses I was talking about, because he owns it.

Ideally Ramsey would start his runs much deeper, in a similar position to Jude Bellingham for England, and we saw how that worked.

England’s 4-3-3 became a 4-2-3-1 as Bellingham broke forward and scored his first goal as we’ve seen Ramsey score so many times.

I’m sure the players I’ve mentioned so far will be involved but, for this to all work the way I want it to, we need Joe Allen as one of our men in midfield. Without him we won’t be able to control the game as well.

I talked about his importance in the team my column before the USA game and although he will not be fully fit yet, this must be the moment to take a risk. Even if you play 60 minutes or more, it’s worth the gamble.

After this we play England, and we really need four points in that game to have a chance of getting out of the group, so there’s no point saving anyone now.

Let’s go and give ourselves the best chance of beating Iran by picking the right players and choosing a system that suits their strengths.

Danny Gabbidon was talking to Chris Bevan in Doha.

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