England, Iran, the United States, and Wales are all in Group B. The group is expected to be swept by Southgate's team.
The Qatar 2022 World Cup kicks off on November 20 at the Al Bayt Stadium, with the hosts facing Ecuador in Group A. The tournament was scheduled to begin the following day with Senegal’s match against the Netherlands at Al Thumama Stadium, but Qatar’s game was moved up to allow them to play the curtain raiser in the mega event.
England, Iran, the United States, and Wales are all in Group B. The group is expected to be swept by Southgate’s team. Iran could come as a surprise in Group B. With Gareth Bale in the side and the quality he brings, Group B could be an excellent race to see who takes second place out of the three. Here is a detailed breakdown of each side’s strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities.
Strengths – The overall squad depth of Southgate’s England team appears to be solid, and the team are an expressive one. Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice are young, influential players who are a coach’s fantasy. England could be clinical in the final third with one of the best strikers in the world, Harry Kane, and a lot of supply around him. The previous game against Germany showed signs of a mentally strong English team, as they rallied from 2-0 down in the second half to tie the game 3-3.
Weaknesses – The Southgate Saga. Reece James and Kyle Walker’s injuries, a disastrous Nations League campaign, and Harry Maguire’s struggles The right side of the defense may be a minor source of concern. In particular, England’s recent form may be their weakness, as they have failed to win any of their last six matches. Southgate will need to rethink his strategy before the main event in Qatar.
Opportunities – It’s coming home? To go all the way under Southgate this time around. England have suffered a few heartbreaks along the way, reaching the World Cup semi-finals as well as losing to Italy in the Euro 2020 final. Glory is well within reach if England gets a few things right and turns the table with a few good and confident results.
Threats – The Coach himself? Southgate can be pretty conservative at times, and the strategy can backfire. Things can quickly deteriorate with Iran, the United States, and Wales, which is a tricky group.
Strengths – Iran are a promising unit with the potential to cause havoc and upsets. Carlos Queiroz’s men have Iran have been a counter-attacking machine with a solid defense, losing only one of their ten qualifying games. Carlos Queiroz’s long ball tactic has created numerous attacking options. In addition, they enter the quadrennial event with only two losses in their previous nine games.
Weaknesses – Iran, with their long ball and counter-attacking strategy, were in a slump against weaker opponents as the teams would hold their defense back and not press. The main disadvantage was when Queiroz’s strategies were unable to dominate games and the defense became vulnerable. The team should probably be open to changing strategy according to the opponent to have a good campaign.
Opportunities – In the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, Iran was very unfortunate to encounter some of the best teams in the competition, losing just by a goal to Argentina in Brazil and Spain in Russia. Iran also got the point against Portugal in a 1-1 stalemate. With a better group this time around, they could compete for second place behind England.
Threats – The only threat for Iran are themselves, with Carlos Queiroz opting for his 4-1-4-1 formation, which could well and truly backfire against some of the defensive opponents. Still, with a slight change in strategy and a willingness to press forward, Sky could be the limit this World Cup.
Strengths – The USA are a young and energetic team, with the youngest team in the Qatar World Cup with an average age of 24.5. They are a team full of quality and talent. Christian Pulisic could be the man for the US national team. They have lost only twice in their last ten games and could potentially threaten any team on a given day.
Weaknesses – The team’s tactical creativity is a major concern, and the team have struggled to score away from home. The US has looked out of place against major teams and finished third in qualification. The defensive system code is difficult to crack and could cost them well despite the team’s abundance of quality in the heart of the pitch.
Opportunities – The fact that many US stars are young and have not played much football at the highest level and that there are no major expectations for the US national team to make a deep run in the tournament could actually work in their favour to surprise the footballing fraternity.
Threats – The US team faces threats from its overloaded midfield talent and a lack of balance of players at the back and in front of the pitch. The attacking force may be told to hold back from time to time, which may eventually reduce their goal-scoring abilities.
Strengths – Wales have recently found success in major tournaments, which has sparked interest in the football world and got them talking. If they can pick up a win or two, they could fight for second place in the group. They advanced to the semi-finals of the 2016 Euros and the Round of 16 of the 2020 Euros. With Gareth Bale bringing his quality to the table, Wales could beat any team on their day.
Weaknesses – Wales’ form has been a major source of concern, as they have won only two of their last ten qualification matches. Wales’ defense, in particular, must step up in Qatar if they are to have a chance, as they have conceded 12 goals in their last eight games. With Wales kicking things off against the United States, it could be the ideal match to launch their campaign.
Opportunities – Wales have been a good and promising unit, reaching the semi-finals of the 2016 Euros and the Round of 16 of the 2020 Euros. They gave Belgium and the Netherlands a run for their money in recent Nations League matches with their gutsy attitude and will be quietly optimistic about their chances in Group B.
Threat – Wales’ major threat is at the back, where they have conceded 14 goals in 11 games since November 2021, and Robert Page will need to resolve the issue quickly if they are to have a chance in their group and possibly beat their neighbors England.