World Cup 2022: England vs Iran Preview

As the Qatar World Cup began on Sunday, England start their third international campaign with Gareth Southgate against Iran. The Group B favourites will want a good start to the tournament after the underwhelming and demoralising relegation from the Nations League. Now they have the expectation to get to the latter stages of the World Cup having reached the semi-finals in 2018 and the EURO 2021 final. A huge chance for England with a lot of quality and form in the squad.

Iran have only lost two games in their last 21 with defeats to Algeria and South Korea. They managed to eek out a 1-0 win over Uruguay and hold Senegal to a 1-1 draw recently. They’ll be a tough team to break down so England will need dynamism and creativity but also composure at the back to prevent any kind of slip ups seen against Hungary.

England Team News:

Gareth Southgate has confirmed England will be without two key players. Kyle Walker isn’t ready to feature against Iran but could be ready to play in the later group stage games. James Maddison hasn’t trained yet and is a big doubt for not just the match tomorrow. This is not the first time Gareth Southgate has brought injured or recovering players to a tournament. Harry Maguire missed United’s last four games of the 2020/21 season including a crucial Europa League Final but managed to overcome his knee injury to play a major role in England’s road to the final.

Kalvin Phillips could make the squad after missing a lot of the season due to injury but Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice have provided a solid midfield in his absence. Raheem Sterling has also been tipped to start despite struggling for Chelsea this season.

England Predicted XI vs Iran

I expect next to no surprises from Gareth Southgate. He has his trusted players. Pickford being one of them and won’t be replaced any time soon. Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw are almost certain to start, along with John Stones and Harry Maguire. Those five are certainties. Without Walker, England could start with a four at the back to allow more bodies in possession in attacking areas.

In midfield, I cannot see any reason to part Rice and Bellingham but instead add another body to boost creativity and numbers tracking back if needed. Many would put Phil Foden as the 10 but for me he can’t do what Mount does. Mount’s vision and passing will be crucial without James Maddison and while Foden is a mercurial talent, unless he is out wide, he won’t start for England. Or at least shouldn’t.

In attack, if it were up to me, Sterling wouldn’t be starting, Rashford or Foden would. However, he has delivered for England at the EUROs when they needed him most and so I understand Southgate’s decision should the reports be correct. If Sterling starts, it will be on the left of a three and so leaving Bukayo Saka to hold the right hand side almost on his own. And we all know who starts up front.

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Trippier, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Bellingham; Saka, Mount, Sterling; Kane

Predicted Score:

England could record a comfortable win if they score early against Iran. If they have the creativity and focus to maintain possession, and restrict Iran’s play, it will be a great result for the Three Lions. I can see them overcoming the Iranian defence and recording a perfect start to their World Cup campaign.

England to win 2-0

Author: Arjun Handa

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