FIFA World Cup Group B Preview: Magnifying Glass at Gareth Southgate, England

FIFA World Cup Group B Preview: Magnifying Glass at Gareth Southgate, England

At first glance, Group B is a clear favorite. England, a year removed from heartbreak in the Euro 2020 final, are back on the big stage as stars ply their trade at top clubs in the Premier League.

And still considerable doubts remain. Manager Gareth Southgate’s team selection has come under scrutiny and the injury to Chelsea standout Reece James leaves a big hole at wing-back.

This uncertainty at the top of Group B opens the door for the ‘other boys’. The United States have suffered through a poor campaign, but still have an exciting cadre of young attackers who will cause problems for opponents. Wales and Iran were relegated to the role of spoilers early on, but Gareth Bale and Mehdi Tremey could have turned the tie around with one kick of the ball.

England, be warned.

Group B Schedule

November 21: England vs Iran (8am)
Nov. 21: USA vs. Wales (2 p.m. ET)
November 25: Wales v Iran (5pm)
Nov. 25: England vs. USA (2 p.m. ET)
November 29: Wales vs England (2 pm ET)
Nov. 29: Iran vs. USA (2 p.m. ET)

the teams

united kingdom
FIFA World Ranking: 5
Top scorer in qualifying: Harry Kane (12 goals)
World Cup Winning Odds: +484 (via Sports Interact)
Odds to win the group: -308

Previous World Cup appearances: 15
Best Show: Championship in 1966
2018 World Cup: 4of the place

Manager: Gareth Southgate
Possible formation: 3-4-3
Probable starting XI: Jordan Pickford (Everton) – Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City) – Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Declan Rice (West Ham United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United) – Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Big question: Will Harry Kane’s goalscoring prowess be enough to power an England team struggling to find form?

Pulse: It has been a long time since Bobby Moore’s team won the World Cup at Wembley Stadium. Since then, England have suffered a lot of ridicule while failing to recapture the heights of Alf Ramsey’s “wonderful Wingless”.

This changed in 2018. The Three Lions, led by then 24-year-old Harry Kane, advanced to the semi-finals of the World Cup before losing to Croatia in extra time. That run was improved three years later, but regret prevailed again when Italy lost to England on penalties in the Euro 2020 final. Although the defeat was a bitter blow, there remained reason for optimism. England was brilliant, young and fearless.

Still, we are not sure about this team today and perhaps more precisely, we are not sure about manager Gareth Southgate. A string of poor results in the Nations League, including a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Hungary, added to the magnifying glass at Southgate. As England pack up for Qatar, Fikayo Tomori’s decision to leave the home side in favor of a determined Harry Maguire and an unmoved Conor Cody has only reinforced the belief that the manager is out of fresh ideas and the He is responsible at that time. pass

The X Factor: Kane is the obvious choice, but England will only go as far as the Spurs man will take him. His last goal from an opener for his country was against San Marino last November. This is cause for concern.

Breakout Candidate: Borussia Dortmund wunderkind Jude Bellingham took the road less travelled. Many domestic rivals stood out for the 19-year-old after he played for Birmingham City, but Bellingham opted for the Bundesliga. Since then, his stock has only risen, and the midfielder will command a huge transfer fee after his display in Qatar this summer.

If Sardar Azmoun recovers from injury in time for the World Cup, he is sure to be Iran’s main threat. (Kamran Jibrili/AP)

FIFA World Ranking: 20
Top scorer in qualifying: Sardar Azmoun (10 goals)
World Cup Winning Odds: +30,300 (via Sports Interact)
Odds to win the group: +1,500

Previous World Cup appearances: 5
Best performances: Group stage in 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018
2018 World Cup: 18of the Venue (Group Stage)

Editor: Carlos Queiroz
Possible formation: 4-3-3
Probable starting XI: Hussain Hussaini (Establishment) – Majid Hussaini (Kesrispor), Hussain Kananani Zadgan (Al Ahli), Sadiq Mehrami (Dinamo Zagreb) – Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Feyenoord), Suman Ghadous (Bruntelford), Suman Ghadous (Bruntelford), Ansarifard (Omonia), Mehdi Trinmi (Porto), Sardar Azmoun (Bayer Leverkusen)

Big question: We can expect Iran to defend well under the tough manager of the tournament in Carlos Queiroz, but can they score enough points?

Pulse: Rarely have we seen a national team sack their manager after a successful tournament, but Iran did just that. Following reports that some of his players wanted him out, Dragan Skocic was sacked in September and replaced by Carlos Queiroz, who has experience at this level. He has led South Africa, Portugal and Iran (twice) to World Cups, and served as assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson – the resume bullet that guarantees you a job for life.

Iran’s attacking talent, made up of Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Sardar Azmoun and Treimi, is remarkable. The counterattack is where it gets frustrating.

The most important story to play for this squad may come off the field. Protesters in Iran demand justice Mehsa Amini Hopefully their message will spread across Qatar. National team legends like Ali Dai and Ali Karimi have already spoken. Will current players feel safe doing this?

The X Factor: Tremi’s falling out with Skavić was reportedly one of the reasons for the Croat’s departure. It is understandable to see why the players won this power struggle. The Porto man scored exactly the kind of late winner in a friendly against Uruguay that could have beaten Iran and taken the three points.

Breakout Candidate: Although he is a household name in Leverkusen, many fans should know who Sardar Azmoun is. Eight years ago, he made his debut for the national team at the age of 19. Today it is one of the focal points of Iran. However, there are concerns that injury could hamper the 27-year-old. Azmoun suffered a torn calf muscle in his right thigh in October and will be racing against time.

Weston McKinney will bring his strong club form to the World Cup with the United States this season. (Martin Messner/AP)

United States
FIFA World Ranking: 16
Top scorer in qualifying: Christian Plessic (5 goals)
World Cup Winning Odds: +9,000 (via Sports Interact)
Odds to win the group: +536

Previous World Cup appearances: 10
Best performances: Semi-finals in 1930
2018 World Cup: Did not qualify

Editor: Greg Berhalter
Possible formation: 4-3-3
Probable starting XI: Matt Turner (Arsenal) – Sergio Diste (AC Milan), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Anthony Robinson (Fulham) – Younes Moses (Valencia), Taylor Adams (Leeds United) Weston McKinney (Juventus) – Brendan Aaronson (Leeds United), Jesus Ferreira (Dallas), Christian Plessic (Chelsea)

Big question: Was the lackluster campaign a sign of a team destined for disappointment in Qatar?

Pulse: The disaster that occurred in Kuwa five years ago left deep scars. The United States failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after losing 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago. It was the first time since 1986 that they had failed at this point and the pitchforks came out quickly. Bruce Arena was fired and mainstays like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore waved goodbye. It was time to start a new generation.

As we approach the 2022 qualifying campaign, several members of the new kids on the block — including Weston McKinney, Taylor Adams, and Brendan Aaronson — have followed Christian Pulisic’s path to Europe. Memories of the past, including the waterlogged pitch at Eight Bolden Stadium, are gone.

But it was not so easy. Berhalter’s charges have struggled at times in the eighth round of CONCACAF qualifying, with the Americans finishing third behind Mexico and Canada. The team’s recent form, including a dismal display in a friendly against Japan, and Berlter’s decision to leave Riccardo Pepi and Jacques Stéphane out of the squad altogether, has caused familiar frustration among fans.

The X Factor: The health of star midfielder Weston McKinney will be worth monitoring. While Juventus have been awful this season, McKinney’s performance so far has been a welcome source of positivity. The 24-year-old is nursing a quad injury but is expected to be ready for his debut against Wales on November 21. The return to fitness of Dortmund youngster Jio Reyna makes the USMNT’s wing attack more dangerous.

Breakout Candidate: Jonah Moses was chosen for this. He moved to London at the age of nine to join Arsenal’s academy and joined Valencia at the age of 16. In Qatar he will join McKinney and Adams to form the side’s most exciting midfield in years.

Gareth Bale remains the engine behind the Welsh offense. (Rui Vieira/AP)

FIFA World Ranking: 19
Top scorer in qualifying: Gareth Bale (6 goals)
World Cup Winning Odds: +12,000 (via Sports Interact)
Odds to win the group: +574

Previous World Cup Matches: 1
Best performances: Quarter-finals in 1958
2018 World Cup: Did not qualify

Editor: Rob Page
Possible formation: 3-4-2-1
Probable starting XI: Wayne Hennessey (Nottingham Forest) – Ethan Ampadu (Spezia), Joe Rodden (Rennis), Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur) – Conor Roberts (Burnley), Joe Allen (Swansea City), Aaron Ramsey (Nice), Nico Williams (Nottingham Forest) – Gareth Bale (LAFC), Daniel James (Fulham) – Kiefer Moore (Bournemouth)

Big question: The MLS Cup Final was the ultimate example of Gareth Bale’s Big Game™ but can anyone ride shotgun with him to the knockout stages?

Pulse: Rob Page’s team made it tough to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958. Wales finished second in their group behind Belgium and then beat Austria and Ukraine in the play-offs to secure their place in Qatar.

The common denominator in these great contests was the bull. The 33-year-old’s odd result for his time with Real Madrid has overshadowed the fact that he can still steal points during the game with his world-class ability. The question for Welsh will be who else can step up if Bale is run over by the opposition every time he comes across the ball. Aaron Ramsey is no longer in his prime, so the onus will fall on the youngsters in this lineup.

The X Factor: There was a time, perhaps thanks to Manchester United’s banter machine, when Dean James was seen as the next big thing in the Premier League. A hiatus soon followed, as did stints with Leeds United and now Fulham, but James remains a key player for a team that needs his game-breaking pace.

Breakout Candidate: Nico Williams’ introduction to the big time came during the tumultuous days when Liverpool were out of the Premier League. Then, the 19-year-old earned an occasional spot in the league-winning starting XI. Now at Nottingham Forest he plays regularly, and for Wales, he is a dynamo to go along with James.

Significant prediction for group B

Taylor Adams and Plessic lead the United States to top spot in Group B as England revive a push from Wales to reach the round of 16.

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