England are seen as favourites for Group B of the men’s football World Cup 2022, but will be wary of the threat posed by the other teams, having faced Wales and the USA in the group stages of major tournaments before. Iran will also frustrate if they repeat their encouraging showing of four years ago.
Gareth Southgate leads the Three Lions into what many people expect to be his last major tournament as manager. England were a few missed penalties from lifting a first major trophy for 55 years at Euro 2020 and made the World Cup semi-finals last time out in Russia.
Engalnd’s form heading into the tournament isn’t good having been relegated from their Nations League group and there is a sense of staleness in the air despite breezing through qualification.
Southgate will be under pressure to deliver a more expansive and entertaining brand of football given the players at his disposal. Can the players overcome this malaise and fire England to World Cup glory?
Star player: Harry Kane – The England captain will be looking to build upon winning the Golden Boot in Russia 2018 and could surpass Wayne Rooney’s England goalscoring record of 53 during the tournament.
Despite breezing through qualifying, the run up to the World Cup has been disastrous. Dragon Skokic was fired in July, then reinstated before being replaced by Carlos Queiroz in September. Queiroz had previously served as manager of the national side for eight years from 2011 to 2019.
Nevertheless, the squad which fought so well against the likes of Spain and Portugal four years ago and missed out on qualification to the knockout stage by only a point, remains largely the same.
Iran’s political unrest concerning women’s rights has clouded the run up and Queiroz has said that his players are free to show solidarity if it is within tournament rules despite opposition from the Iranian football federation.
Star Player: Sardar Azmoun – The Bayer Leverkusen forward scored 10 goals and made four assists to help his side through qualifying though his involvement in Qatar remains unclear after picking up an injury.
The Americans are back on the biggest stage of all in Group B after failing to qualify for the 2018 edition. The appointment of Gregg Berhalter as manager after that embarrassment has led to an upturn in fortunes, with a 2021 win in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League against Mexico and victory in the CONCACAF Gold Cup only a week later against the same opponent.
A number of young prospects have also emerged, including Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna and Lille’s Timothy Weah. However, recent results will be a concern, with their final two friendlies resulting in a surprise 2-0 loss to Japan and a frustrating 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia.
Star Player: Christian Pulisic – The poster boy and captain of the national team has struggled with form and fitness for Chelsea but will relish the opportunity to get one over England if the opportunity arises.
Rob Page will lead Wales into their first World Cup since 1958 in Sweden. Led by talisman Gareth Bal,e the Welsh delivered some valiant performances during qualification and saw off Ukraine in a playoff to reach Qatar.
The Welsh head into Group B having not picked up a win in five Nations League matches with a draw against Belgium the only point they managed. In what is likely to be Bale’s one and only World Cup they will need to dispel the rocky form they had in the build-up in what could become a very open group.
Star Player: Gareth Bale – The Los Angeles FC forward heads into the tournament having just won the MLS Cup. His 40 goals for Wales should serve as reminder that despite being 33 he can still perform at the top level.
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