“A storm, a red storm, is coming to the gates of Qatar,” Michael Sheen promised as he gave a rousing speech to the Welsh national team ahead of their first World Cup appearance since 1958.
Emboldened by the “spirit of ’58”, Rob Page’s side produced a battling display upon their return to the grandest of spectacles in all of sports.
Their 1-1 draw with the USA offers Wales hope of progressing into the knockout stages. They have absolutely everything to play for and supporters will be dreaming of a Euro 2016-esque journey in Qatar.
The moment Welsh football supporters had been waiting 64 years for arrived on Monday night as they took on the United States in an evenly-matched contest on paper.
However, it was the USA that dominated proceedings in the first half and they took a deserved lead through Timothy Weah before the break.
The introduction of target man Kieffer Moore at half-time inspired Page’s men, who were superior for much of the second-half. Both Moore and Ben Davies came close to equalising before their previously quiet hero won and scored the subsequent penalty with ten minutes remaining.
Gareth Bale’s emphatic spot-kick sent an entire nation into raptures as Wales claimed a point on Matchday 1.
Wales will fancy their chances of taking down Iran on Matchday 2 after they were thumped 6-2 by England. While the Welsh lack the quality of Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions, they’ll feel that they’re more than capable of grabbing the victory they need on Friday 25 November.
A tough test then arrives in the form of England to round off the group. While they’ll undoubtedly be desperate to get one over their neighbours, Southgate’s side have started the tournament in ominous form.
Wales will want England to do them a favour on Matchday 2 against the USA. Should England win and they beat Iran, Wales will have a three-point cushion over the USA heading into the final group game.
Two victories will see Wales advance as Group B victors, while four points from their next two games will leave them in a great position to qualify. The USA would need to match that haul and boast a superior goal difference to pip the Welsh in that scenario.
Three draws may well be enough if England beat the USA and the latter draw with Iran on Matchday 3.
In what’s poised to be an incredibly tight group, Wales will know that just one victory might be enough to advance into the round of 16. Their Matchday 2 clash with Iran will be hugely significant in determining the make-up of Group B.