World Cup – Group B Preview

The World Cup is always incredibly special. It’s even more special as we have more than one home nation in the World Cup for the first time since 1998. To really put the cherry on top of the cake, both sides are in the same group. England & Wales are both in Group B along with Iran and USA.

There is absolutely no better place to watch the World Cup in this country than with We Love Sport. With that, be sure to get your seat at your local WLS venue for England v Iran to get the tournament underway!

 

Rivalries galore

Group B is a fascinating group as there are rivalries all across the board which makes the group even more tense.

We have England & Wales, an obvious geographical rivalry, England & USA have a rivalry which is especially prevalent on social media. Finally, both England and USA have political tensions with Iran to make at least one rivalry for every side in the group.

For us in the UK though, it is England vs Wales that grabs the attention.

Wales

19:00

England

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England

England have been an incredibly peculiar side under Gareth Southgate and they’ve been harder to read than their results may show. Under Southgate, the side have gotten to a World Cup semi-final and a European Championship final. On paper, that’s a fantastic showing as its better than achieved in decades.

However, both runs to the final have been against lowly ranked opposition and full of struggles over the line in games that should be dominated. There is no question of doubt that the England side is full of amazing attacking talent, but the act of going far in tournaments with 5 defenders and 2 holding midfielders is due to be found out at some point.

A squad full of players such as Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham should be EXPECTING to get to the final by blowing sides away and not trickling over the line against Denmark and Colombia. But, looking at Southgate’s squad, maybe he’s finally pulling away from that 5.

The huge news, which gives hope that England will take it to teams, is that James Maddison is in the England squad. The debate has raged on for months that he should be included, due to the fact only Harry Kane has more Premier League goals and assists than the Leicester man. Looking at the squad, you’d imagine if Southgate did play 4-3-3, then it is him joining Declan Rice & Jude Bellingham in the centre of midfield.

With all this being said, the England players, particularly the forward line, are coming into the tournament in great shape and will be looking to build on what they have started. The ongoing debate about formation will rage on, but the aim and expectation is, and should be, to win the World Cup.

Wales

The Welsh team have qualified for their first World Cup since 1958, where they actually reached the quarter-finals and were knocked out by Pele’s Brazil team. Despite the fact Wales have missed out on so many World Cups, they are not here by luck. Over the course of the last decade Gary Speed, Chris Coleman and Rob Page have built for this. They are here because they’ve earned it and their performances at EURO 2016 and EURO 2020 show that they are not here to just make up numbers.

The Welsh team did need a playoff to get here because they finished second in their group, but there is absolutely no shame in finishing second to Belgium. The Welsh side has been in a little bit of disarray because of Ryan Giggs doing Ryan Giggs things again, but Rob Page stepped in and steadied the ship. Page’s side defeated Ukraine to get to the World Cup this year, which didn’t please most of the world!

The squad did not throw up many surprises, other than 72-time-capped midfielder Joe Allen making the squad. The Swansea City player has been ever-present during the revival of Welsh football, but he has not played since September 17th. Talisman Gareth Bale is in the 26 man team, fresh off winning the MLS Cup with LAFC in what could be the players swansong from the sport. Aaron Ramsey makes the team after having a quiet spell at Nice.

It’s an interesting tournament for Wales, as it’s not quite a crazy group of death, but USA are no joke and Iran have been criminally underrated. The first aim is to get out of the groups and considering its their first World Cup since 1958, everything else is a bonus.

USA

The United States of America return to the World Cup after failing to qualify for the last tournament, but they enter Qatar as CONCACAF champions. The side are now established and regularly winning games.

Their record in World Cups has actually been quite good, getting to the knockouts in both 2010 and 2014. Football is obviously not their first sport, in fact they don’t even call it football. But despite that the fanbase is growing and as are the amount of players. After success in 2021, the Americans are really hoping to show that it was not a fluke and they are here to stay.

Not qualifying for 2018 was tough, but their squad was not full of great players. In fact, in their 2014 squad they had starters at clubs such as Seattle Sounders, Sunderland and Stoke. This is simply because the talent was not there and American internationals were not rated in the UK. Fast forward, they have AC Milan, Juventus and Chelsea players leading the team.

They’re back, and they’ll want to make a statement. USA and Wales are the two favourites for that second place berth and it really is anyone’s guess as to who finishes ahead of who. Looking at the American squad though, it’s hard to bet against them.

Iran

One of the more interesting nations in this World Cup, Iran close up the group. Of course, absolutely nobody thinks of Iran when it comes to football. No Iranians have ever dominated the world stage, and none have even played Premier League football.

Despite that though, this is their third World Cup in a row and that can not be discredited. It is the third tournament in a row that Carlos Queiroz has taken charge of. Queiroz was Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant and has a lot of respect in the football community and he is probably well deserving of a larger job, but he sees what is happening here. In 2014, the Iranians struggled, winning only one point. Four years later though, Querioz’s hard work began to show. The side defeated Morocco and drew with Portugal, being eliminated with 4 points.

Four years ago, they earned 4 points but the group had Spain and Portugal in, who were almost qualified before a ball was even kicked. Now, with World Cup experience under their belt, they are looking to push on. A group with England, Wales and USA is not impossible. In fact, the latter two are more than capable of losing to Iran. Its probably rightly said that they are least favourites, but it’s stupid to say they’re not in the hunt. After all, they’ve won a World Cup game more recently than Wales or America…

We Love Sport

We are absolutely ecstatic for this tournament. The teams are ready and the group looks tasty. All we can say is that you have to get down to your nearest venue, because it is going to be absolutely electric the entire way through this tournament.