Pedigree Wales has waited 64 years for this moment. The country had not qualified for a World Cup since 1958, but it has been on the rise for the better part of a decade, reaching the semifinals of the European Championship in 2016 and then returning to the tournament five years later.
The Last Hurrah The two key figures in Wales’s renaissance, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, are both unquestionably in the autumn of their careers, seeing out their time at Los Angeles F.C. and Nice, respectively. Below them, there are green shoots, including the likes of Brennan Johnson and Neco Williams, but for now everything still hinges on the veterans.
Key Question Bale’s decision to move to L.A.F.C. in M.L.S. this summer was seen as an attempt to guarantee his fitness for the World Cup. It has not quite worked like that — he was absent far more than the club anticipated — but he did sub on and score a crucial equalizer in the M.L.S. Cup final. Wales will hope Bale has a few more flashbulb moments left.