Follow all the action as Wales host Austria in the World Cup play-off semi-finals as both sides bid to move a step closer to Qatar 2022.
Rob Page’s side had already been guaranteed a place in the play-offs thanks to their efforts in the Nations League, however, victory over Czech Republic in a tricky qualification group that also featured Belgium ensured Wales of home advantage in this one-legged tie. Wales come into the crucial match in great form, having gone unbeaten in their last seven matches, but doubts remain over the fitness of Gareth Bale, who has played just 77 minutes of competitive football since November. Some reports have claimed that if Wales fail to reach the World Cup, Bale could withdraw from professional football this summer when his contract expires with Real Madrid.
Austria were less impressive in their qualifying group, finishing fourth behind Denmark, Scotland and Israel, but their play-off place was also guaranteed by performances in the Nations League. The winner of tonight’s tie will face either Scotland or Ukraine in the play-off final for a place in Qatar, however, that match has been postponed due to Russia’s continued invasion of the latter.
Follow all the latest action from Wales vs Austria live below:
Wales vs Austria: Early team news
Gareth Bale has confirmed he is fully fit and ready to start for Wales despite Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti revealing he missed Sunday’s game against Barcelona because he “didn’t feel well”.
Bale has played only two games for Real since his last international appearance in November 2021.
Midfielder Aaron Ramsey is also available after scoring his first goal for Rangers on Sunday since joining the Scottish club on loan from Juventus in January.
However, Wales will be without striker Kieffer Moore, goalkeeper Danny Ward, forward Tyler Roberts and defender James Lawrence because of injury. Midfielder Joe Morrell is suspended.
Austria have recalled Bristol City striker Andreas Weimann after a seven-year absence. Eintracht Frankfurt’s Stefan Ilsanker and Arminia Bielefeld midfielder Alessandro Schopf have also been added.
They replace Hoffenheim’s Florian Grillitsch, Union Berlin defender Christopher Trimmel, centre-back Philipp Lienhart of SC Freiburg and FC Cologne midfielder Dejan Ljubicic.
Lens defender Kevin Danso, formerly of Southampton, had also been added as cover but has since had to pull out with an ankle injury.
Michael Jones24 March 2022 18:22
Wales face Austria in World Cup play-off semi-final
Welcome to The Independent‘s live coverage as Wales host Austria in the World Cup play-off semi-finals.
Rob Page’s side come into the crucial tie as favourites, having gone seven games unbeaten and finished second in their qualifying group to ensure themselves of home advantage tonight. Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are both expected to be fit to start, despite limited competitive minutes this season with their clubs, while Brennan Johnson has been in fantastic form for Nottingham Forest this season.
Austria endured an indifferent qualifying campaign, finishing fourth in their group behind Denmark, Scotland and Israel, but their place in play-offs had already been guaranteed thanks to their performance in the Nations League.
The winner of tonight’s tie will face either Scotland or Ukraine in the final, with that semi-final postponed due to Russia’s continued invasion of the latter.
Tom Kershaw24 March 2022 14:36