FIFA World Cup, Group B: England, USA, Wales, Iran team guide, preview

While four strong teams are grouped together, it’s more likely the teams will adopt a tournament-­style pragmatic football and not go gung-­ho in attack.

Published : Nov 21, 2022 08:24 IST

England’s Harry Kane, USA’s Christian Pulisic, Wales’ Gareth Bale and Iran’s Mahedi Taremi.
England’s Harry Kane, USA’s Christian Pulisic, Wales’ Gareth Bale and Iran’s Mahedi Taremi.

England’s Harry Kane, USA’s Christian Pulisic, Wales’ Gareth Bale and Iran’s Mahedi Taremi.

This is a strong group with all four teams ranked in the top 20, which will make it one of the most tightly­-contested groups. England will be the favourite to make the knockouts followed by the USA with Wales — Gareth Bale in particular — and Iran looking to spring a surprise. 

While four strong teams are grouped together, it’s more likely the teams will adopt a tournament-­style pragmatic football and not go gung-­ho in attack. And the teams have coaches in Gareth Southgate (England), Gregg Berhalter (USA) and Carlos Queiroz (Iran), who focus on minimising turnover in possession or minimising spaces to get in behind. Wales’ Rob Page is a relative newcomer to the international stage. 

There have been several calls made to FIFA asking for the suspension of Iran, due to the country’s refusal to allow women to stadiums, but they will be lining up against England for the first time as they get the ball rolling on November 21. 

The ‘British Derby’ between England and Wales will be among the final round of fixtures, but both teams will be hoping there is little riding on the game and can get the qualification sealed before the face­-off. 


Six months ago, England was seen as a strong contender for the World Cup but a poor run in the Nations League and injury concerns have doused the expectations.

England at FIFA World Cup (FIFA rank: 5)
World Cup appearances: 15, World Cup matches: 69, World Cup goals: 91, Best performance: Winner in 1966
Road to World Cup: Finished top of Group I in UEFA qualifiers
Captain: Harry Kane 
Coach: Gareth Southgate

Defender Reece James is out of the tournament, centre-­back Kyle Walker and central midfielder Kalvin Phillips are racing against time to be match­fit, while centre-­back Harry Maguire has suffered a massive dip in form. Southgate has shown to be loyal to his players, but it will be a huge call on whether he will start or bench Maguire, come the opening game.

Southgate, who took over in 2016, has had a mixed review of his time with the resources available at his disposal. Despite the availability of attacking riches, he prefers to go with a back five and play with three attackers. But England’s lack of central midfielders, who can control the games against the top-­ranked sides means they have let winning positions slip in recent big tournaments. 

Hopes have been pinned on teenage star Jude Bellingham, who is fast becoming one of the most sought-­after central midfielders in Europe.

Full England squad
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale
Defenders: Harry Maguire, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw, Kieran Trippier , Trent Alexander-Arnold, Eric Dier, Conor Coady, Ben White
Midfielders: Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, James Maddison, Conor Gallagher
Forwards: Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling , Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, Callum Wilson


On paper, like England, the USA has a talented young core, who ply their trade in top European clubs, but is largely insipid as a unit. The USA has put lower-­ranked teams like Honduras, Panama and Grenada to the sword, but has struggled against Saudi Arabia and El Salvador in recent times. 

USA at FIFA World Cup (FIFA rank: 16)
World Cup appearances: 10, World Cup matches: 33, World Cup goals: 37, Best performance: Third in 1930
Road to World Cup: Finished third in CONCACAF third round qualifiers
Captain: Tyler Adams
Coach: Gregg Berhalter

Gregg Berhalter, who has been at the helm since 2018, is tasked with making America’s ‘Golden Generation’ dream. Christian Pulisic, 24, whose club form has been on the downward curve in the last 12 months, is the team’s biggest star and always steps up for the United States men’s national soccer team (USMNT). They are also stacked with upcoming stars in Gio Reyna, Tim Weah, Josh Sargent, Sergino Dest and Brenden Aaronson, who possess the ability to be difference-­makers. 

Fitness cloud hovers over over key central midfielder Weston McKennie after he suffered a thigh injury recently. The 24­-year-­old also sustained a metatarsal fracture earlier this year, which ruled him out for three months

Full USA squad
Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath, Matt Turner, Sean Johnson
Defenders: Joe Scally, Sergino Dest, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman, Shaq Moore, DeAndre Yedlin, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson
Midfielders: Cristian Roldan, Kellyn Acosta, Luca de la Torre, Yunus Musah, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson
Forwards: Jordan Morris, Jesus Ferreira, Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Giovanni Reyna, Timothy Weah, Haji Wright


Wales will be high on the emotion of making the finals for the first time in 64 years and will look to ride that wave in Qatar. Gareth Bale, the nation’s most celebrated footballer, has helped Wales achieve the unthinkable by reaching the semifinals of the EUROs in 2016 and helping it qualify for the World Cup in June.

Wales at FIFA World Cup (FIFA rank: 19)
World Cup appearances: 1, World Cup matches: 5, World Cup goals: 4, Best performance:: Quarterfinalist in 1958
Road to World Cup: Qualified through European playoffs beating Ukraine
Captain: Gareth Bale
Coach: Rob Page

Any hope of the Dragons progressing past the group stages lies squarely on Bale’s prowess. The 33­-year-­old’s time at his new club Los Angeles FC in the MLS has been managed to ensure he remains match­-fit for the World Cup. He has made just two starts and never completed 90 minutes in his 13 appearances but crucially scored a dramatic equaliser in LAFC’s MLS Cup win. 

Wales has a good mix of youth and experience to cause more than an upset or two.

Wales full squad
Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey, Danny Ward, Adam Davies
Defenders: Ben Davies, Ben Cabango, Tom Lockyer, Joe Rodon, Chris Mepham, Ethan Ampadu, Chris Gunter, Neco Williams, Connor Roberts
Midfielders: Sorba Thomas, Joe Allen, Matthew Smith, Dylan Levitt, Harry Wilson, Joe Morrell, Jonny Williams, Aaron Ramsey, Rubin Colwill
Forwards: Gareth Bale, Kieffer Moore, Mark Harris, Brennan Johnson, Dan James


Iran hasn’t had an ideal preparation for the finals. Turmoil in its own backyard, the country’s sports stars not wanting to see their nation in Qatar, and widespread calls for it to be kicked out and a change in coach added to its uncertainty. 

Iran at FIFA World Cup (FIFA rank: 20)
World Cup appearances: 5, World Cup matches: 15, World Cup goals: 9, Best performance: Third­place finish in its group in 1998, 2018
Road to World Cup: Finished first in Group A of AFC third round qualifiers
Captain: Ehsan Hajsafi
Coach: Carlos Queiroz

Carlos Queiroz, who previously coached Iran in the 2014 and 2018 editions, returned to the job for the second time after Dragan Skocic was fired, reinstated and fired again within the space of two months. Queiroz is known for his ultra­pragmatic football and will look to set up to frustrate his opponents. Iran stunned Uruguay 1­-0 in the first match on his return and held Senegal to a 1­-1 draw.

While the team is built on defensive solidity, Team Melli will bank on Alireza Jahanbaksh, Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun to provide the spark up front.

Iran full squad
Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand, Amir Abedzadeh, Seyed Hossein Hosseini, Payam Niazmand
Defenders: Ehsan Hajsafi, Morteza Pouraliganji, Ramin Rezaeian, Milad Mohammadi, Hossein Kanaanizadegan, Shojae Khalilzadeh, Sadegh Moharrami, Rouzbeh Cheshmi, Majid Hosseini, Abolfazl Jalali
Midfielders: Ahmad Noorollahi, Saman Ghoddos, Vahid Amiri, Saeid Ezatolahi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Mehdi Torabi, Ali Gholizadeh, Ali Karimi
Forwards: Karim Ansarifard, Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi


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