Kieffer Moore was the player that stood out to me the most during Wales’ match against the United States, despite the fact that Gareth Bale received most of the media attention.
When we were down 1-0 and had fewer than ten minutes left, there was no other player I would have wanted to see take our penalties other than Bale. It was a really stressful circumstance, but he was able to handle it such that we could obtain an equalizer.
However, Moore was the one who turned the tide in our favor in the game. After what he did against the United States, I was genuinely taken aback that he didn’t get the nod to start against Iran. However, after what he did against Iran, I would be completely dumbfounded if he didn’t get the nod again.
After being substituted in for the second half, the Bournemouth forward made an early contribution to the game. The first thing he did was run down the channel with the ball on his chest. After that, he took part in the game. He moved us forward on the field by approximately 40 yards, which established the tone for the rest of the match.
Moore is vastly underestimated in every respect.
Moore provided us with the focal point that we had been lacking; nevertheless, he does not simply stand in the middle of the field and wait for the ball to be sent to him.
As a central defender who has competed against him, I can attest to the fact that he is a challenge to deal with and that he is vastly underappreciated in every facet of his game.
In 2019, while I was playing for Bristol City and he was playing for Wigan, I had the opportunity to compete against each other in the Championship. However, at that moment, I thought to myself, “he is going to be in the Premier League soon,” and I was right about my prediction. He did not score against me because I was definitely not going to allow that to happen!
Moore is 6 feet and 5 inches tall, but he is much more mobile than you would expect him to be. He can get down the wings and run with the ball even when he is under pressure. In addition, Moore has a height of 6 feet and 5 inches.
Additionally, he has an excellent first touch. He demonstrated against the United States that he can keep the ball in play regardless of where he is on the field and that he is highly skilled at constructing plays.
You were able to see that through his participation in the action that resulted in a penalty for our team. He maintains such order in the corner, and he holds on to the ball until he can get some assistance.
And whereas in the first half we had been shooting balls forward into spaces, and it was coming straight back, when we did that after the interval, Moore was always there to intercept the ball.
He supplied our wing-backs, Neco Williams and Connor Roberts, which allowed them to get up the field and play a more active role in the game. Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale were able to do this because they were sure that the ball would stay in play when they advanced it.
That was beneficial to the performance of the whole team. Although I continue to believe that this is an area in which we need to improve when playing Iran, the defense could take a break and the midfield could make some forward progress.
The safe return of Allen is crucial.
It’s strange how a draw may be seen in two completely different ways depending on how you get it.
After losing so late in the game, the United States will have felt as though they lost it, while we were able to finish on such a good one. The point was really important for our hopes of making it to the round of 16, and we have gained some momentum. I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out.
Nevertheless, there is no getting around the reality that we got off to such a terrible start in the game. We were really atrocious, and as a player or a commentator, I can say with confidence that it was one of the worst halves I’ve ever seen from Wales.
Moore was the key to our successful response, but the manner in which we began the game underlined what a significant hole Joe Allen left in the middle of the field.
He has not participated in a game since sustaining a hamstring injury in the middle of September and was not fit enough to play on Monday, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that he will be able to play against Iran because we are going to need him.
If Allen been on the field during the first half, the United States could have been able to score a goal, but they were unable to completely dominate play in the middle of the field while he wasn’t there.
Their attack came directly down the middle of the field, and given Allen’s uncanny ability to both be in the right place at the right time and to hold space rather than marking a player, he would have been able to recognize the threat and protect that strategically important area in the center of the field.
If he is unable to participate, we will have to consider alternative players to play alongside Ethan Ampadu and add some more support to our team before deciding how to go with the game.
I have high hopes that we will be able to take steady possession of the ball and launch waves of attacks against Iran, just like England did. Then we’d be able to release someone like Ramsey, and he’d be able to go to work in the opposing team’s half of the field.
I would also question whether a back five is necessary at this point in time. Although Iran scored twice against England, indicating that they will be a threat, all of Wales’ defenders are experienced playing in a four, which would provide us an extra man higher up the pitch if we played in that formation.
What comes next? A game that can’t be lost.
The game against Iran is one that we absolutely have to win, and as such, we have no choice but to approach it as though we already know we will.
The way in which England has been dominating them should give us reason to be confident. The boys will not in any way underestimate Iran, but the previous match demonstrated that if you play on the front foot like that, be positive, and dominate possession, then Iran is yours for the taking.
We have always wanted to go into the game against England having already secured four points, and we are currently in a strong position to accomplish that goal.
It would mean that we are still in the running to go out of the group, which is something I did not believe I would be saying at half-time of the game against the United States.
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