Wales and Argentina are set to open the quarter-final banner in Marseille on Sunday, as they look to reach a semi-final that for both sides may feel somewhat fortunate.
Wales had an unbeaten pool stage in which they demolished a crumbling Australia, as well as securing comfortable wins over both Portugal and Georgia. They had to count themselves somewhat lucky following a tricky encounter against Fiji in which the match almost got away from them in the final minutes.
Argentina on the other hand started the tournament on the back foot after a poor performance against England. From here on the South American side had to grit their teeth to achieve victories to ensure qualification.
What: Rugby World Cup – Quarter Final
Who: Wales vs. Argentina
When: 14/10/2023 – 17:00 local time
Where: Stade de Marseille, Marseille
Wales: There are major exclusions from the squad, with the likes of Taulupe Faletau and Gareth Anscombe both forced out through injury. Tommy Reffell makes up for Faletau’s absense, as he takes his place in the backrow following a reshuffle.
The inclusion of Dan Biggar and Liam Williams will please Wales fans after both were dealing with seperate injuries.
Argentina: Facundo Isa starts at number eight following the loss of Pablo Matera, whilst Tomas Cubelli replaces Dragons scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou.
Wales: L Williams; Rees-Zammit, North, Tompkins, Adams; Biggar, G Davies; G Thomas, Elias, Francis, Rowlands, Beard, Morgan (capt), Reffell, Wainwright.
Replacements: Lake, Domachowski, D Lewis, D Jenkins, Tshiunza, T Williams, Costelow, Dyer.
Argentina: Mallia; Boffelli, Cinti, Chocobares, M Carreras; S Carreras, Cubelli; Gallo, Montoya (capt), Gomez Kodela, Petti, Lavanini, Gonzalez, Kremer, Isa.
Replacements: Creevy, Sclavi, Bello, Alemanno, Bruni, Bazan Velez, Sanchez, Moroni.
Words from the coaches:
Wales – Warren Gatland: “Argentina bring that South American mentality, they’re very passionate, and that’s why they’ve won big games against the top teams in the past in the southern hemisphere.
“They don’t give up. They stay in the fight. They’re a tough team to break down and beat, so we’ve got a huge amount of respect for them as a team and we know it’s going to be a big challenge for us.
“The quarter-final poses its own challenges and pressures, because you’re either here until the end of the tournament or you’re going home on Monday.
“We’re not ready to go home. It’s pressure rugby now in the knockout stages. That’s what we’ve prepared for and all the hard work we’ve put in.”
Argentina – Michael Cheika: “We know Wales are favourites and that’s pretty clearly obvious, everyone’s made that point to us bar our Argentine supporters.
“We know that we’re going to have to do something different, something special around the game on Saturday so that we can be competitive with them, but I’m a huge believer in our team. I love the fellas, they’re always together, they’re a very committed team and I know they’ll enjoy this occasion.
“They’ve felt a bit of that expectation of trying to make it through, and from the work we’ve done I feel like they’re ready.”
Key match up:
Louis Rees-Zammit vs Mateo Carreras
Out and out pace vs swerving footwork. These men can be the difference between victory and loss. Give either an inch of space and the defence will live to regret it.
Rees-Zammit is the faster of the two in a straight line, but no one can turn defenders inside and out like Carreras, so expect Zammit to keep a very close eye on his opposite number.
Wales 18 – 12 Argentina
Neither side has set the tournament alight as of yet so we don’t believe it will be the high scoring spectacle that both of Sundays matches are expected to be. The sides are both short on x-factor and confidence, so high risk and high reward strategies will be few and far between.
It will be tough battle, but thanks to Wales’ unbeaten record in the tournament so far, the side have that aura of unbeatability heading into this match. Argentina on the other hand have had the least convincing run into the quarter finals, and will likely find it hard to progress any further.