Nobody’s calling this the Group of Death. Maybe they should — it’s the only one in which all four teams are ranked inside FIFA’s Top 20.
Here’s a look at all four teams:
World Cup Group B Preview: USMNT, Iran, England and Wales
Alexi Lalas and David Mosse break down Group B of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
coach: Gareth Southgate
Highest finish: Winner (1966)
2018 finish: Fourth
FOX Bet odds: +750
Key players: Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Harry Kane
What we’re excited to watch: England enters the tournament on a six-game winless run. Will its poor form continue in Qatar?
What success looks like: A first final appearance since 1966 would be a triumph even if anything less than a title will be seen as a failure by England’s perennially unrealistic fans and media.
Achilles’ heel: Penalties. Even though England won a tiebreaker in 2018 for the first time at a World Cup, they remain 2-7 all time in the shootout at major tournaments, including last year’s home loss to Italy in the European Championship final.
The X-Factor: Kane. The Golden Boot winner in 2018, his goals can paper over a lot of the Three Lions’ deficiencies.
Three things you need to know about England
Alexi Lalas breaks down three things we need to know about England ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
coach: Carlos Queiroz
Highest finish: Group stage (1930)
2018 finish: Group stage
FOX Bet odds: +75000
Key players: Sardar Azmoun, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Mehdi Taremi
What we’re excited to watch: The group finale between Iran and the United States. Not only is it a rematch of the 1998 meeting between the longtime political adversaries (a game Team Melli won), it could determine which nation advances to the second round.
What success looks like: The answer is obvious for a team that has not survived the group stage in five previous attempts.
Achilles’ heel: Themselves. Iran has a long history of imploding at the World Cup, which is part of the reason this soccer-loving nation filled with natural talent has never made it past the first round.
The X-Factor: Queiroz. Iran fired former coach Dragan Skočić just four months before Qatar 2022 and replaced him with the Portuguese manager, who previously led Team Melli from 2011-19. It’s a risk; Queiroz bombed out of his last two national team jobs, with Egypt and Colombia.
Three things you need to know about Iran
Alexi Lalas breaks down three things we need to know about Iran ahead of the 2022 World Cup. The list features Iran’s third straight World Cup appearance, Sardar Azmoun, and their matchup against the United States.
coach: Gregg Berhalter
Highest finish: Third (1930)
2018 finish: Did not qualify
FOX Bet odds: +20000
Key players: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic
What we’re excited to watch: The youngest team in the tournament gets its first true test against elite opposition, and it comes on the biggest stage there is.
What success lookwith like: Just getting out of a group that, based on FIFA’s ranking, is the toughest at this World Cup, while the bare minimum, would also be acceptable after not qualifying four years ago. Anything more is gravy.
Achilles’ heel: Knitter. For all of their talent at fullback, in midfield, and on the wings, none of the center forwards on the roster have a proven ability to score goals at the highest level.
The X-Factor: Gio Reyna. Finally healthy again after missing almost a full year with leg injuries, the gifted 20-year-old (as of Nov. 13) Borussia Dortmund attacker has enough talent to be the Americans’ breakout World Cup star.
[USMNT World Cup 2022 roster reveal: Legit snubs and surprises]
Three things to know about the United States
Alexi Lalas breaks down three things we need to know about the United States ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
coach: Rob Page
Highest finish: Quarterfinals (1958)
2018 finish: Did not qualify
FOX Bet odds: +25000
Key players: Gareth Bale, Wayne Hennessey, Daniel James
What we’re excited to watch: It has been 58 years since the Welsh competed in their lone World Cup appearance, so just seeing them on the biggest stage is a novelty. As important as their opening match against the United States is, the game against England is Wales’ World Cup final.
What success looks like: Just being there is already a success, which takes some pressure off them. While England is the clear favorite to win the group, claiming the second spot is achievable, as not much separates Wales from the US or Iran.
Achilles’ heel: Goalkeeper. Sound as Hennessey was in the World Cup berth clinching win over Ukraine in June, he will be rusty at the main event. The 35-year-old has not played a single minute in the Premier League this season for Nottingham Forest.
The X-Factor: Bales. There’s a reason Bale has won five Champions League titles, scoring the winning goal for Real Madrid in two of them. He’s a legitimate difference maker at the highest level. As the longtime Welsh captain, the 33-year-old — if he’s healthy enough — will be motivated to put his country on his back in front of a global audience.
Three things you need to know about Wales
Alexi Lalas breaks down three things we need to know about Wales ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
MORE GROUP PREVIEWS: GROUP A | GROUP C | GROUP D | GROUP E | GROUP F
Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered the United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @By DougMcIntyre.
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