BEN LEVENE (@BenLevene96) shares his thoughts on the crucial World Cup qualifier between Wales and Georgia on Friday.
Georgia v Wales | Friday 6th October 2017, 19:45 | Sky Sports
To be honest, since their European Championship display in 2016, there has been little value in betting on Wales. The bookies have had them quite short but when you delve deeper, there is definitely substance behind it.
Chris Coleman’s men have not lost a football match in over 12 months. They are eight-games unbeaten and have conceded more than the single goal on just one occasion in that period.
Wales currently sit in second position of Group D but given they face third-place Ireland in their next game, nothing but a win will do. The Dragons made up lost ground in the last international break, picking up two wins from two courtesy of late Ben Woodburn magic.
Just for a bit of context, Ireland host Moldova on Friday, who are yet to pick up a win this campaign. They’ve drawn two games, both of which were against Georgia, who have also failed to win a game. One would assume Ireland have enough to get the job done.
Wales’ ability to adapt
Anyway, we have to acknowledge the absence of Wales’ talisman Gareth Bale through injury. However, his absence didn’t hinder Wales picking up a point away at unbeaten group leaders Serbia. In fact, Bale hasn’t scored in any of Wales’ four World Cup qualifiers away from Cardiff.
The Dragons are notoriously organised and tough-to-beat. Results in the last 12-months evidence this but what really appeals to me is Coleman’s ability to adapt, which he has shown in recent times.
This qualification campaign, Wales have often lacked cutting edge when the appropriately named Bale has failed to bail them out. They’ve struggled to get the job done and muster out wins despite their commendable grit and solidity.
During the last international break, Coleman was not afraid to ditch the trusted back-five and operate with a 4-2-3-1, as was the case in their last win in Moldova. Coleman used Tom Lawrence off the left to add some extra attacking quality and with the absence of Bale, its possible Woodburn gets a go from the start this Friday.
The betting angle
Georgia themselves are no rollovers. Although they haven’t won a qualification game this campaign, they’ve drawn five of their last six.
Wales are odds-against to take all three-points and while that is slightly appealing I’m going to attempt to be shrewd and take a similar price about a Wales clean sheet.
Coleman’s side have proved their defensive prowess over a long period now, both with and without Bale. We can back that to show through again. Wales are 5/4 with Boylesports to keep a clean sheet.
Georgia v Wales – Wales to keep a clean sheet (5/4 Boylesports)