After years of waiting, the FIFA World Cup returns to our screens as the greatest spectacle in sports hits the Middle East this Sunday. The fact that the competition is being held in Qatar isn’t exactly sitting well with the majority of fans and pundits out there, but there has still been an attempt from the masses to forget about all of that in favor of what we all know and love – the beautiful game.
Eight groups of four teams are set to compete in the final World Cup before the capacity is extended from 32 to 48 in 2026. The expectation is that we’ll see a whole lot of unpredictable scorelines, goals and potentially career-changing performances, but in reality, most people just want Qatar’s effort to go off without too many problems.
We can’t picture a scenario in which that happens but for the sake of keeping the peace, we’re going to look towards the actual football that’ll be played over the course of the next month or so.
Group B is what we’ll be taking a look at today with England, United States, Wales and Iran all featuring. It’s an unpredictable assortment of sides, to put it lightly, and we’re intrigued to see how they all mesh together in perhaps the most politically incorrect group of the entire WC.
The Three Lions have been on an upward trajectory for quite some time now. They reached the semi-finals in Russia four years ago, they got to the final of the Euros, and they are currently considered to be one of the best teams in the tournament and one of the favorites to go all the way.
Alas, their form combined with the uncertainty surrounding Gareth Southgate’s squad selection makes this particularly interesting, with certain minimum requirements being needed if he’s going to carry on past Qatar. They’ve got some killers in their team, but when stacked up against the defensive strength of their rivals, there’s a good chance they’ll have to break a sweat.
The Welsh are ecstatic to be competing in their first World Cup in what feels like forever and who can blame them? They worked unbelievably hard just to get to this point in time and as we saw at Euro 2016, they tend to thrive in the role of underdogs – especially with Gareth Bale leading the charge.
They’ve got a nice blend of young talent and experienced faces and the best thing that can be said for their chances is that this isn’t the hardest group in the world. In fact, some would see them as second favorites to go through, highlighting what they’ve achieved in recent outings in the big time.
The might of Iran as a national football presence tends to come down to their defensive steel. They know how to keep teams out and they know how to make things ugly, which could make for some fascinating encounters in this group, especially if they’re able to hit their tired foes on the counter.
Carlos Queiroz is the mastermind behind this particular operation and that’s been the case for a while. Some countries would be happy to make up the numbers and just see what they can do, but in this instance, we can see an active push from the Iranians to frustrate Group B and cause something of a stalemate.
After missing out in Russia 2018, the United States aka USMNT are hungrier than ever to make some waves. They don’t exactly have the best squad in the tournament, but in a lot of ways, this is all about building a foundation. They’ll be co-hosting the FWC in 2026 and in reality, this is kind of a free shot for the youngest team out of the 32.
There isn’t a whole lot of faith behind the current manager, but they’ve been in an underdog position before. In fact, that’s where they tend to do most of their best work. A few of their big stars currently ply their trade in the Premier League and in elite top tiers across Europe, which is precisely what they need in terms of experience to go blow for blow with the very best.
Prediction: England – 1st, United States – 2nd, Iran – 3rd, Wales – 4th