21 Nov 2022
Who: Iran vs. England, Group B
In which location: Khalifa International Stadium
When: November 21st, Monday (4pm local time, 13:00 GMT)
Rankings: England (5), Iran (20)
Head-to-head: Opening contest
In the previous five games: Iran LWLWD and England LDDLL
At the 40,000-seat Khalifa International Stadium on Monday, England will play Iran in what is arguably the most highly heated group match.
Due to the historically tense relations between the two nations, a global tournament would have been the only opportunity for the football teams to meet, which they have done up until today.
The four teams in the group are all ranked in the top 20, earning it the feared title “Group of Death,” in addition to the political friction between Iran and its three Western group mates.
Considering their ranking, past performances, and tournament history, England are considered the favorites to advance from the group. The UEFA Nations League games played by Gareth Southgate’s team this summer resulted in three losses and three draws, which resulted in their relegation.
Southgate has selected a talented 26-man team for the World Cup, and he will be hoping that his standout players from last year’s Euro success can return to their finest form. Along with players like Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, and Bukayo Saka, Captain Harry Kane will direct the attack. A strong midfield is also provided by Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham, and Mason Mount. However, Southgate hasn’t been able to stop England from conceding goals, which has been their defensive weakness.
Mehdi Taremi, a famous striker for Iran, will lead the assault while being aided by Sardar Azmoun and Alireza Jahanbakhsh.
Carlos Queiroz, a Portuguese coach in Iran, will try to stifle the English offensive talent by using his defensive-heavy strategies. With victories over Lebanon and Uruguay in recent friendlies, Iran has had a respectable run of results.
Iran won eight out of ten games during the second stage of their World Cup campaign, topping their group ahead of South Korea. While Croatian coach Dragan Skocic oversaw the qualification campaign, Team Melli supporters will be hoping that Queiroz’s comeback prior to a major competition will be in their favour.
Iran will be hoping to leave their first match with at least a point. And with Wales and the other two teams in the group being the underperforming USA and highly placed Wales, Queiroz’s team will have a chance of pulling off an unexpected result and making it to the World Cup knockout round for the first time.