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2022 World Cup Breakdowns: Group B
The clock to the World Cup continues to tick down to zero, and I can already hear the buzz in the air. There’s nothing more exciting than the World Cup–it’s like March Madness on steroids, but only if March Madness happened once every four years and it included EVERY basketball player in the world. So, that wasn’t the best analogy–but maybe the World Cup is so crazy and exciting that it’s hard to even compare to something else? I’m going to go with that.
Last week, I broke down Group A, so it’s time to look at Group B. The first match of the World Cup is set to kickoff on Sunday, November 20th, as home nation Qatar is looking to grab an early victory against Ecuador. Group B, which contains the United States and England, is set to kick off on November 21st–so you better get your bets in line before kickoff. If you want to bet on the World Cup this year, you can do so through any of these New Jersey Online Casinos. If you’re looking for a sportsbook promotion, check out the best offer in the USA: DraftKings Bet $5, Win $200.
Is it coming home? After reaching the semifinals in the 2018 World Cup and the finals in the 2020 Euros, England is practically salivating for a major tournament win coming into the 2022 World Cup. The international soccer giant hasn’t won a major trophy since 1966, so their title as an “international soccer giant” is beginning to expire–a World Cup championship would be sure to renew things.
Manager Gareth Southgate definitely has some talented players at his disposal, and while the official World Cup rosters have yet to be released, we can make some assumptions as to what the final team will look like. A projected midfield with Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham, and Mason Mount is a scary sight, and with Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, and Jack Grealish up top, this English team will be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
England hasn’t been incredible at the Nations League, but they’ve been rolling out their borderline C squad every time. Well, almost every time–we got a good look at what could be close to the senior squad when they took on Germany, which ended in a 3-3 draw. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that England will cruise through the Group Stages, and anything less than nine points after their three games will be considered a failure.
Jude Bellingham, MID: Jude Bellingham is finally starting to become the star that England always hoped he’d be. Rarely do you see a midfielder so complete at such a young age, but Bellingham has absolutely everything. He was key in that 3-3 draw against Germany, and his added experience through the Premier League and the Champions League is doing wonders for his game. I expect him to be the heart of this English side here in Qatar.
Harry Kane, ST: In order for England to succeed at the World Cup, Harry Kane has to perform. He’s consistently been one of the top strikers in the world, and he's a scary presence up top for any opposing defense.
The United States
Boy, does this make me nervous. I was feeling so good about the US Men's National Team, but then they came out and lost to Japan and drew with Saudi Arabia. I already know that the US will lose to England–that’s a given–but the remaining group-stage games against Wales and Iran are very winnable…or at least should be very winnable. But after two straight games of no offensive production (the aforementioned Japan and Saudi Arabia matches) my confidence is at an all-time low.
I’m going to try and keep my head up, though. Rising star striker Ricardo Pepi has scored in two straight club games and is looking like the strong offensive presence that the US has needed for so long. Add in attacking play from Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna, and this US team has a high offensive ceiling. That’s why it’s so frustrating when they don’t produce–the talent is there, they just have to work some things out I guess.
What’s even more frustrating though, is that the talent is there on the defensive side of things too. Between Sergino Dest and Antonee Robinson, the USMNT have two of the best young wing-backs in the game. Tyler Robinson at CDM works as a nice anchor for the entire defensive unit as well, and Walker Zimmerman and Chris Richards do a fine job holding down the center-back positions. It’s not going to be pretty for the USMNT this Novemeber, but they have the talent to get out of this group relatively unscathed–if they can deliver on that, though, has yet to be seen.
Christian Pulisic, MID: Dubbed “the Lebron James of American Soccer,” Christian Pulisic is the heart of this American team. The first real talent they’ve seen since Landon Donavan and Clint Dempsey, Pulisic has all the makings of a true number 10.
Ricardo Pepi, ST: I mentioned his name earlier in this piece, and for good reason. If Pepi can manage some playing time, there’s not a doubt in my mind he’ll make an instant impact.
Wales has been a thorn in the side of seemingly every team they’ve played. They’re 2-2-5 (W-D-L) in their last nine, but each of their losses were within one goal. They also played well against some strong teams during qualifying and the nations league, keeping it close against Belgium, Netherlands, and Poland.
Gareth Bale is still around, and he’ll likely be a problem for opposing defenses. While he’s definitely lost his pace and some of his flashy skills, he’s still Gareth Bale and commands your utmost respect. That said, he’s only scored two goals in 12 appearances for Los Angeles FC, but he has netted 40 goals in 108 appearances for the Welsh national team.
This is Wales’ first World Cup berth since 1958, so they’ll definitely be looking to make a splash here in 2022.
Daniel James, DEF: James, who is currently on loan to Fulham, is emerging as a top defensive prospect in all of soccer right now. He’s got incredible speed and skills for a defender, and is probably the best player on this Wales team.
Iran is coming into this tournament as a strong, strong dark horse, making their third World Cup in a row as the #1 ranked team coming out of Asia. They were an absolute menace in qualifying, winning 8 matches and losing only one of their final qualification-round fixtures.
Iran has tons of European club talent on their side, which may surprise the layman. Porto forward Mehdi Taremi, Feyenoord midfielder Alireza Jahanbakhsh, and Bayer Leverkusen forward Sardar Azmoun make up a very strong offensive unit, but where they lack is…well…everywhere else.
They can’t even seem to get their manager straightened out. Dragan Skocic was fired after qualifying for the World Cup, yet was almost immediately rehired later in July, only to get fired again and replaced by Carlos Queiroz, who was the coach for Iran’s 2014 and 2018 World Cups. What a mouthful.
Sadar Azmoun, FOR: Well, this is going to sting for Iran, as Azmoun is currently doubtful to play in the World Cup due to a calf injury. Talk about a bad break.
About the author
Frank Weber is a sports & gaming writer with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and years of experience in the gambling world. He loves baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and the UFC - he even collects sports cards and memorabilia! In his free time, you could find Frank either out at a concert with friends, or at home sweating out all his (soon to be won) bets!