England will take on less fancied Iran in their FIFA World Cup 2022 opener at Khalifa International Stadium on Monday. This is the first time that England and Iran will be locking horns in an international match. While England’s pre-World Cup form has been poor, Iran have lost only 3 matches from their previous 22 games. Although England are expected to come out as the winners of this contest, a point for Iran from this match will spice things up in Group B.
Although the Euro 2020 finalists England are expected to go deep in the tournament, their form leading into the World Cup has been poor. The Gareth Southgate-coached side has been winless in its five previous matches. The team also suffered the embarrassment of getting relegated into the second tier of the UEFA Nations League after a 0-1 loss at the hands of Italy in September. The team has only managed to net 4 goals in its last 5 games.
Iran is the 20th-ranked team in FIFA’s men’s rankings. The Asian side are making their third consecutive appearance in the FIFA World Cup finals. But the team has failed to progress to go beyond the group stages the last two times.
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz would be aiming to create some upsets in Group B as the team would be eyeing to progress into the round of 16 this year. Although Iran are the least fancied side in Group B, their pre-tournament form holds a lot of promise. The team has lost just 3 matches in their last 22 contests. Iran were also their group winner during the qualifying campaign for the Qatar World Cup.
England’s shaky defense will be tested by Iran who like to sit deep and then launch a counter-attack in a jiffy. Although England are expected to come out as the winners of this contest, a point for Iran from this match will spice things up in Group B.
Form Guide (last five matches)
England’s squad has a couple of players who are dealing with injuries ahead of the team’s tournament opener. Defender Kyle Walker and midfielder James Maddison have traveled to Qatar despite being injured. The two players are highly likely to miss the match against Iran.
Iran’s centre-forward Sardar Azmoun had minor injury concerns but he is expected to be fit enough to have some game time under his belt against England.
England’s possible starting XI
Pickford, Maguire, Dier, Stones, Shaw, Rice, Bellingham, Tripper, Sterling, Kane, Saka
Iran’s possible starting XI
Beyranvand, Moharrami, Pouraliganji, Hosseini, Mohammadi, Jahanbakhsh, Noorollahi, Ezatolahi, Hajisafi, Amiri, Taremi
Betting odds (bet365)
England win: 1/3
Iran win: 10/1
Where to watch and match timing:
(Edited by: Abhishek Jha)