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World Cup: Group B preview

England and Wales will face off in a tasty-looking Group B in Qatar with the home nations joined by USA and Iran.

After reaching the semi-finals in Russia four years ago and then advancing all the way to the Euro 2020 final, the Three Lions are expected to qualify for the knockout stages fairly comfortably.

Wales, playing in only their second World Cup, will hope to join their neighbours in the round of 16, while USA will also have designs on finishing in the top two.

Iran are the underdogs of the group and their tournament is expected to play out in a similar fashion to that of their previous five World Cup appearances when they were knocked out in the group stage.

WhatWorld Cup
When20th November - 18th December 2022
OddsBrazil +333, England +800, France +750, Argentina +550, Spain +800

Who has been drawn in Group B?

England are World Cup regulars, having qualified for the previous six tournaments with their best-ever performance of course coming in 1966 on home soil.

CountryManagerCaptainBest Ever FinishOdds to qualify from Group BOdds to win Group B
EnglandGareth Southgate Harry KaneWinners (1966)1/201/3
WalesRobert PageGareth BaleQuarter-finals (1958)11/106/1
USAGregg BerhalterChristian PulisicSemi-finals (1930)1/111/2
IranCarlos QueirozEhsan HajsafiGroup stage (1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018)4/116/1

Gareth Southgate arguably exceeded expectations to guide his side to the last four in Russia four years ago, when they were knocked out by losing finalists Croatia.

England were only spot-kicks away from being crowned European champions last year and will believe they have the personnel to compete for the trophy in Qatar.

Wales have finally managed to make it to a World Cup 64 years after their debut appearance - coming through the play-offs, beating Austria first and then Ukraine.

Robert Page's side may have to rely on an ageing Gareth Bale to inspire them in Qatar but finishing in the top two in the group and qualifying, which is available at +137, will be their target.

USA made the last eight in 2002 but then followed it up with a group stage exit in 2006 and consecutive last-16 exits in 2010 and 2014 before disappointingly failing to qualify for the 2018 edition.

Iran would be delighted with a top-two finish but it seems far-fetched to suggest they can compete with the other countries in Group B.

When are the Group B fixtures?

DateMatch numberTeam 1Team 2KO timeVenue
21st November3EnglandIran08:00Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
21st November4USAWales14:00Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
25th November17WalesIran05:00Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
25th November20EnglandUSA14:00Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
29th November33WalesEngland14:00Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
29th November34IranUSA14:00Al Thumama Stadium, Doha

England versus Iran is the third game in the tournament overall, and takes place at the Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan with Southgate's side -275 to kick off their campaign with a win.

Wales get their group matches up and running with a testing tie against USA before the Dragons take on Iran on 25th November, the same day England meet USA.

The huge Wales-England showdown is set for 29th November at 14:00, the same time as Iran and USA go head-to-head.

Related Group B News

World Cup - Football: England team profile

World Cup - Football: Iran team profile

World Cup - Football: USA team profile

World Cup - Football: Wales team profile

Who are the players to look out for in Group B?

England have plenty of world-class stars in their squad, led by Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who is +700 to be the tournament's top-scorer. West Ham midfielder Declan Rice and Chelsea duo Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount are among the other players hoping to make a big impression in Qatar.

Wales' obvious star man is Bale, who will be desperate to finally take his chance on the world stage for his beloved country at the age of 33.

USA have several players who ply their trade in England in their squad, including Leeds United duo Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson, Fulham's Antonee Robinson and Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic. The Stars and Stripes are beefed up by the likes of Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie and Barcelona defender Sergino Dest.

Iran have former Brighton forward Alireza Jahanbakhsh, now at Feyenoord, in their ranks, while skipper Ehsan Hajsafi is his country's fourth-most capped player with 119 appearances.

Bayer Leverkusen forward Sardar Azmoun has 40 goals for Iran from just 63 caps and will be key if his side are to cause a surprise in the group.

Who could be the breakout stars in Group B?

Brennan Johnson was outstanding for Nottingham Forest in the Championship last season and the 21-year-old will now hope to catch the eye for Wales, as will club-mate Neco Williams and Chelsea defender Ethan Ampadu.

USA youngster Giovanni Reyna has been touted as a future global star for a few years so the Borussia Dortmund forward will be one to watch, while Hull City forward Allahyar Sayyadmanesh, 21, will hope to make an impact for Iran.

Conor Gallagher is in contention to be part of Southgate's squad and the Chelsea man, who has four caps to his name so far, has the potential to be an England regular in the future if he takes his chance.

Who will win Group B?

England are expected to come out on top in what looks like a fairly straightforward group for the Three Lions, who have only fallen at the group stage once - in 2014 - in their last 10 appearances.

USA are likely to be fighting it out with Wales to finish second behind England and failing to emerge from the group would be viewed as an underachievement for a side ranked 14th in the world.

Wales made it all the way to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 before going out in the last-16 last summer but this is a step up again and Page's side may have to settle for third place in the pool.

Despite Iran's good record of qualifying for four of the last six World Cups, their status as minnows is reflected by the fact they have never made it past the first stage and a similar scenario is expected to play out this winter.

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