The 2022 World Cup is on the verge of kick-off and Group B poses arguably one of the most hotly-contested sets of teams.
England, Wales, Iran and the USA will all go head to head for a place in the knock-out stages and whilst Gareth Southgate’s squad will be seen as favourites, it’s unlikely they could face some hiccups along the way.
2022 FIFA World Cup Group B Predictions
England to Unconvincingly Top the Group
Despite England’s struggles in the Nations League, where they suffered relegation from the top division, the Three Lions should be able to top the group, as they are still stronger than any other team in it.
Their Nations League group was much tougher than this one. Still, it won’t be easy.
An upset against England is well within the realm of possibility, given their recent underwhelming form. A very plausible scenario is that England performs similarly to how they did at Euro 2020, narrowly winning two matches and drawing one.
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Iran’s Prospects Look Promising
The fight for second place is open-ended, with Iran, the United States and Wales all having realistic chances of advancing, a fact further reflected in their even Elo ratings. Something that bodes well for Iran is the recent managerial reappointment of Carlos Queiroz, who almost guided the Iranians to the knockout stage from a highly competitive group at the 2018 World Cup.
This time Iran’s prospects look even more promising, as the likes of Portugal and Spain don’t stand in their way. Also, Iran have picked up some solid results in the most recent international window, drawing with Senegal and notably defeating Uruguay 1-0.
🙌💙🙌 Nothing but love for @MehdiTaremi9 #FCPFCPF pic.twitter.com/b0yLnmeRVp
— FC Porto (@FCPorto) November 5, 2022
Iran also have the prolific talisman Mehdi Taremi within their squad, netting an impressive six goals in 13 appearances for Porto and likely to be a key player for the national team.
The United States Have Started Halting Under Gregg Berhalter
Contrastingly, the United States had an awful international break, failing to score a single goal as they were eclipsed by Japan and drew with Saudi Arabia. Friendlies should arguably be taken with a grain of salt, but at the end of the day, they’re football matches like any other and decently indicative of a team’s current strength. It’s not as if the U.S. fielded their C team in those games.
Manager Gregg Berhalter has some impressive accolades with the Americans, winning both the Gold Cup and CONCACAF Nations League during his stint. Still, it seems he has overstayed his welcome, as America’s results have become poor recently.
They were also a bit inconsistent throughout the CONCACAF Nations League and World Cup qualifiers, especially during the latter stages. Too inconsistent to give them a good chance to reach the knockout stage of this tournament.
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Wales to Narrowly Miss Out on the Knockout Stage
Just like England, neighbouring Wales most recently participated in the UEFA Nations League A. Even though The Dragons were relegated and only obtained a single point, their display gives them reasons to be optimistic heading into the World Cup.
The reason being that they found the back of the net in five out of six matches against strong opposition such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland. It’s also worth noting that Wales are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 64 years, which can give them the extra motivation needed that might secure a spot in the last 16.
Still, such fuzzy and arguably superstitious arguments should be taken with a grain of salt. It would be a bit odd to use a lack of experience as an argument in favour of a team. Regardless, The Dragons do have recent tournament experience stemming from their participation in two European Championships and the Nations League.
The U.S. and Wales are slightly better than Iran on paper, even though there are some noteworthy Iranian players too, but the Middle Eastern side have proven to be a more complete and cohesive team under Carlos Queiroz, meaning they should be marginally favoured to clinch second place.
The Status of Iran
The elephant in the room of this group is Iran. FIFA have been asked to suspend the Iranian Football Association due to the regime’s discrimination of women and violent crackdowns on anti-government protests. However, it’s unlikely that Iran will be expelled from the World Cup, meaning these predictions are still applicable.
Such an expulsion would be too chaotic for FIFA’s liking, especially since the tournament is starting so soon. It would also raise the question of whether other countries that discriminate against women should be allowed.
Last Word on Football recognise the human rights abuses and instances of corruption taking place throughout Qatar and in the background of the World Cup. Learn more about some of the issues surrounding the World Cup here.