There are some tantalising matches to look forward to in the group stages of the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022. Argentina vs Mexico in Group C, Spain vs Germany in Group E, and Brazil vs Switzerland in Group G are just some of the highlights awaiting us in Qatar.
But it may well be Group B that provides the most drama in the first weeks of the competition. Containing England, Iran, the USA and Wales, Group B has the highest average FIFA ranking of all the groups, officially making it this year’s “Group of Death”.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each team in the group, look at the history behind each game, and give you a prediction of who’s going to win.
So, let’s get started…
In this section, we’ll take a look at each individual team, talk about their journey to the finals, their coaches and the key players in each team.
Current FIFA Ranking: 5
Best World Cup Performance: Winners (1966)
Total Finals Appearances / Last Appearance: 16 / 2018
Ok, let’s kick off with the team who are clear favourites to win Group B…England.
England’s qualifying campaign saw them sweep through with a goal difference of 36, including 5-0 victories against Albania and Andorra, and a whopping 10-0 win against San Marino. Yes, it may not have been the most difficult of groups to get to the finals but, without a doubt, England demonstrated how dangerous they are in front of goal.
This is a young squad but packed to the rafters with talent, most of whom play in the Premier League. Maguire, Shaw, Trippier, Mount, Henderson, Grealish, Saka, Sterling…these are just a few of the potential names at Gareth Southgate's disposal when he names his squad.
England's line up and formation in their last international match against Germany and a possible starting XI for Qatar.
For us, we’ll be keeping an eye on Harry Kane. Currently standing at a total of 50 international goals for his country, only the second player in England’s history to cross the half century mark, Kane only needs to score three more to equal the record of 53 goals, currently held by Wayne Rooney.
The following is an example of a goal that Kane scored against Albania during the qualifiers. This is a perfect example of his ability to score from any position. After receiving the ball at the edge of the 18-yard, Kane drags the opposition defence wide, opening up space from himself and getting himself into a scoring position on the edge of the 6-yard box. Even at this acute angle, Kane bangs the ball into the roof of the net, well out of reach of the helpless keeper.
Current FIFA Ranking: 20
Best World Cup Performance: Group stage (1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018)
Total Finals Appearances / Last Appearance: 6 / 2018
Iran didn’t have such an easy time of it as England during the qualifying campaign, but they did beat England in one respect…a 14 goal victory against Cambodia in the second round of qualifying, eclipsing England’s 10-0 win against San Marino.
They also finished top of a third-round group which included South Korea and the United Arab Emirates…not an easy task by any means.
Iran's line up and formation in their last international match against Senegal and a possible starting XI for Qatar.
The Iranians will be led to Qatar by Portuguese coach Carlos Quieroz, who previously held the position between 2011 and 2019…but he was not the coach that helped them through the qualifying campaign. That honour goes to Croatian coach, Dragan Skočić, who was fired as Iran’s head coach in September, despite winning 15 out of 18 matches at the helm.
The reasons for Skočić’s dismissal are unclear, but this late change in managers may well scupper Iran’s chances of progressing in the tournament. Whatever the case, matches against both England and UK may be emotionally charged affairs, considering the political differences between each country.
The Iranian squad contains a great mix of youth and experience and, for us, the key player to watch out for is left back / midfielder, Ehsan Hajsafi. Currently playing club football with Greece’s AEK Athens, Hajsafi is one of his country’s most capped players. With 121 appearances and seven goals to his name, Hajsafi is the voice of experience and stability in Iran’s midfield.
The following is a great example of Hajsafi's pace and vision. This is taken from a Greek Super League game against Volos. Whilst his teammate runs the ball up the right side of the field, Hajsafi accompanies him down the left side, receives the ball open near the penalty spot with little resistance. From there, it's an easy job to slot the ball home to go 2-1 up.
Current FIFA Ranking: 16
Best World Cup Performance: Third place (1930)
Total Finals Appearances / Last Appearance: 11 / 2014
The USA’s qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup was no easy task…in fact, they made it by the skin of their teeth.
Coming third in the CONCACAF qualifiers, the USA went through on goal difference against their great rivals Costa Rica. This in a campaign where they traded wins with Costa Rica, got beaten by group winners, Canada, and drew with 2nd place Mexico.
The USA's line up and formation in their last international match against Saudi Arabia and a possible starting XI for Qatar.
So, yes, you could say they are lucky to take their place in Qatar, but they will be there nonetheless.
The USA has a relatively young squad, but age belies experience as many of their players are playing at the top level in Europe and beyond. Led by head coach Gregg Berhalter, there will certainly be friendly rivalries between players such as Adams, Pulisic and Sargent, all of whom play in the Premier League, and their English and Welsh counterparts.
In fact, our pick of who to watch out for is 23 year old left-winger Pulisic, who currently plays for Chelsea. With 26 goals during his time at the London club, he is the only player in the current USA squad with experience at the highest level of the club game, being part of the Chelsea team that lifted the Champions League trophy against Manchester City in the 2020-21 season.
The following shows a fabulous goal by Pulisic against Panama in the qualifying stages which shows his ball control and cool head. Receiving a looping ball from the left, Pulisic wrongfoots his marker, twisting round to get into space on the edge of the 6-yard box, where he hammers home with conviction to put his team 5-0 ahead.
Current FIFA Ranking: 19
Best World Cup Performance: Quarter-finals (1958)
Total Finals Appearances / Last Appearance: 2 / 1958
It’s been a minute since Wales last appeared at the finals of a World Cup. In fact, you need to go all the way back to 1958 to see the last time Wales were at the tournament.
And it could be said that Wales have taken the most arduous route to get to Qatar. After coming 2nd in their qualifying group to Belgium, Wales then had to go through a series of playoffs to get to the finals, which they did after seeing off Ukraine in June of this year.
Wales' line up and formation in their last international match against Poland and a possible starting XI for Qatar.
Led by manager Rob Page, Wales have, unsurprisingly, a handful of players playing in the Premier League such as Ward, Davies, Williams, James and Johnson who, among others, play with Notts Forest, Leicester and Fulham.
Of course, you can’t discount the presence and experience of Gareth Bale, who carved out a glittering career at Spurs and Real Madrid, winning a plethora of major trophies, including the Champions League, in the process. Bale is currently playing out his career in Major League Soccer for Los Angeles FC.
Given that Bale is currently 33 years old and that this is likely to be his last chance at World Cup glory, he’ll be looking to make his mark and, thus, is our pick of players to look out for in Qatar.
Although advancing in years, Bale still has the lightning fast reactions in front of goal. Receiving a waist-high ball through a sea of defenders, Bale has the vision to spot a gap between the right back and centre back. Turning on a six-pence, he takes the volley and shoots low and hard, right into the bottom right corner of the goal, leaving the keeper no chance.
In this section, we’ll give you the time and dates of each match in Group B, reveal a bit about the history between both teams and give you our prediction for who will win.
21st of November, 16:00 (local time), Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Remarkably, this will be the first time that England have ever faced-off against each other at senior international level. Despite the lack of history between the two nations, it’s difficult to see Iran overcoming the quality of England’s squad.
Our prediction: Easy win for England
21 November, 16:00 (local time), Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
The USA and Wales have only met each other twice on the international stage. These were two friendlies, once in 2003, in which the US won 2-0, and once in 2020, which ended as a scoreless draw. This will be a hard fought match for sure, but we think the USA edge it slightly due to the quality of their players.
Our prediction: 2-1 in favour of the United States
25 November, 13:00 (local time), Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
You have to go all the way back to 1978 to see the last time these two teams played against each other. In that game, Wales ran out 1-0 winners, but obviously, the game has changed a lot since then. The problem for Iran is that it’s difficult to predict how the late-in-the-day change of coach will affect them. On the other hand, Carlos Quieroz knows this squad of players, so maybe it will not affect them too much. It’s hard to tell.
Our prediction: 1-1 draw
25 November 2022, 22:00 (local time), Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Over the years, England and the United States have met each a total of 11 times, with England coming out on top 8 times. But this doesn’t tell the whole story, as only two of these games were played at the World Cup itself. In 1950, the USA beat England 1-0 while 2010 produced a 1-1 draw. Could the same happen again? To be honest, we don’t think so…
Our prediction: a 2-0 victory to the English
29 November, 22:00 (local time), Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
This game sticks in the craw of this Scottish writer as it could just as easily have been Scotland facing the Auld Enemy if the qualifiers had gone well. Anyway, I’m not bitter…
Over the years, Wales have faced England 103 times in total. Of these, they won a paltry 14 games and drew 14. Having said that, Wales will be fighting hard for national pride, especially since this is their first finals in 64 years. It will be difficult, but there’s every possibility that Wales will be able to contain the English, a bit like Scotland did last year in the Euros.
Our prediction: A hard fought 0-0
29 November, 22:00 (local time), Al Thumama Stadium, Doha
Considering the history between these two nations, this is sure to be a politically charged match where anything could happen. The teams have met twice in the past and the USA won neither match. Iran famously beat the US 2-1 at the 1998 World Cup and a friendly in 2000 ended in a 1-1 draw.
Despite this, we think that the USA are a shoo-in for the win here, especially when you consider the quality of their players and the turmoil in the Iranian coaching staff.
Our prediction: 2-0 for the Americans
So, there you have our predictions for the results of Group B in the FIFA World Cup 2022.
According to our predictions, England will progress as group leaders with 7 points, as will the runners up, the USA, with 6 points. Wales and Iran will be going home with 2 and 1 points respectively.
But what do you think? Are our predictions realistic? Why not let us know on any of our social media channels, we’d love to get the debate started.
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