Bale confident of reaching full fitness ahead of World Cup

By Sports Desk September 21, 2022

Wales captain Gareth Bale is confident he will be fully fit for the start of the World Cup despite concerns over his lack of game time for Los Angeles FC.

Bale has only started two matches since making the move to MLS at the end of his time with Real Madrid. 

But the forward allayed worries over his fitness with the World Cup in Qatar on the horizon.

"We have a plan in LA with what we're doing," said Bale, who has reported for international duty for Nations League encounters with Belgium and Poland.

"We're not doing too much straight away.  But we're being clever and building myself up for the last important part of the season. Hopefully, that should put me in great shape for the World Cup."

Bale was hampered by injury problems during his time with Madrid and says it is important to manage his workload.

He added: “The most important thing is to take each week as it comes.

“It's taken a little while to get everything sorted, but I am playing games and have been training for the last 10 weeks and getting stronger.

"Hopefully that will be good enough for me to help LAFC and, ultimately, be ready for the World Cup."

Wales boss Rob Page echoed Bale’s sentiments, saying it would be foolish to take any chances.

He said: "We've always had a common-sense approach with Gareth with regards to his planning and training. It'll be no different on this camp. I'm not going to jeopardise it and run the risk of him getting injured. 

"I want him to go back to his club fully fit, and continuing to get fitter ahead of the World Cup."

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    A superb second-half performance from Morocco secured a famous 2-0 World Cup victory against Belgium at Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday.

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    The win was then secured in the final minutes of the game, Zakaria Aboukhlal smashing home from close range after Ziyech's fine work.

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    Having been on the back foot for the majority, Morocco thought they had scored on the brink of half-time as Ziyech's free-kick found its way into the net, but Romain Saiss was offside and adjudged to have blocked Thibaut Courtois' line of sight.

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    Unity will likely be key if Ghana are to avoid an early elimination from the World Cup, though that is seemingly an area upcoming opponents South Korea are aiming to exploit.

    The Black Stars put up a good fight as they lost 3-2 to Portugal, almost rescuing a commendable point only to see Inaki Williams slip at the vital moment after stealing the ball off goalkeeper Diogo Costa.

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    Ghana have not won any of their past five World Cup matches but they rarely fail to score, having netted at least once in six successive games at the tournament – Nigeria (eight) are the only African team to better that streak.

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    On top of that, they have failed to get a single shot on target in two of their most recent four fixtures at the tournament, and that includes the stalemate with Uruguay when they looked somewhat toothless.

    However, Paulo Bento's men seem to feel there will be an element of Ghana not helping themselves.

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    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    South Korea – Lee Kang-in

    Son Heung-min is, of course, South Korea's star. He will undoubtedly be expected to lead from the front, but he was ineffective against Portugal, managing just a single shot.

    Lee had some bright moments off the bench and ended up recording two key passes, a figure bettered by none of his team-mates. It is unclear if he will come into the starting XI, but he certainly has the ability to influence proceedings off the bench.

    Ghana – Thomas Partey

    Arsenal midfielder Partey showed how important he is to Ghana in the defeat to Portugal. Perhaps not known as a creator, he laid on two chances to team-mates in that game, a joint-high for Addo's side.

    But on top of that, he had the most touches (68), successful passes (47) and tackles (four) in the Ghana team. If they do beat South Korea, he will surely have played a vital role.

    PREDICTION

    With a 40.9 per cent chance of winning, South Korea go into this as the favourites according to Stats Perform data. However, the win probability calculator suggests it could be a very tight affair.

    The likelihood of a Ghana win sits at 31.3 per cent, meaning they have every right to feel they can leave with the three points – though a draw looks almost as likely (27.8 per cent).

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