World Cup 2022 predictions: Southgate's men Lion in wait to roar

Tom McGarry
LiveScore
Gareth Southgate's England should have few problems qualifying from Group B
Gareth Southgate's England should have few problems qualifying from Group B

Group B is likely to draw plenty of attention at the World Cup this winter, with England and potentially Wales or Scotland battling it out alongside Iran and the United States. 

The Three Lions' place at the finals has long since been assured but the Dragons face a play-off final against either Scotland or Ukraine next month to decide who will head to Qatar. 

Straightforward for England on paper

After reaching at least the semi-finals of the last two major tournaments, World Cup 2018 and Euro 2020, England will expect to go deep once again and it is hard to foresee any major problems for Gareth Southgate's side in this group. 

The Three Lions have not lost any of their last 22 matches inside 90 minutes, although the only defeat during that period was a costly one to Italy in the final of the Euros last summer. 

England also underlined their ruthless streak during qualifying, scoring four or more goals in six of their 10 matches en route to reaching the finals, while no player netted more times in the European qualifiers than Harry Kane (12). 

Anything short of topping this group would be disappointing for England, particularly with the table-topping side set to face Senegal, the Netherlands, Ecuador or even hosts Qatar in the last 16. 

Iran an unknown quantity

Iran are through to their third successive World Cup finals and sixth overall but they have never made it beyond the first round.

Team Melli were a little unlucky to be edged out by Spain and Portugal by a single point in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup. 

But they are back for another shot after easing their way through qualifying by winning eight of their 10 matches. 

Ranked 21st in the world, the highest of any Asian side, Iran are still something of an unknown quantity given they have faced just one European side since the last World Cup — a 2-0 friendly win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2020. 

Brentford winger Saman Ghoddos is one name to look out for and Iran are likely to be hard to beat given they conceded just four goals during qualifying.

However, that may still not be enough to see them progress. 

USA looking to make up for lost time

Having failed to qualify for the last World Cup, the United States are back this year under coach Gregg Berhalter. 

Victory in last year's Gold Cup was a huge boost. But after taking just two points and scoring one goal from their final five away matches in qualifying, the jury remains out as to whether they have the tools to succeed in Qatar. 

Chelsea star Christian Pulisic is a key player for the USA
Chelsea star Christian Pulisic is a key player for the USA

There is a spine of a good team, particularly in midfield where Juventus' Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah of Valencia and Tyler Adams of RB Leipzig could form a formidable three. 

But other than Chelsea's Christian Pulisic, it is difficult to know where the goals will come from. 

Opportunity for European qualifier

Whichever one of Wales, Scotland or Ukraine qualify for the finals will believe they have a great chance of advancing to the knockout phase.  

The Dragons are in pole position given they have already come through their play-off semi-final with Austria and they also possess plenty of individual quality in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, who are both likely to be playing in their final World Cup campaign. 

Ukraine also have quality within their ranks, with captain Andriy Yarmolenko and forward Roman Yaremchuk providing an obvious goalscoring threat, as seen during their run to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.

The Blue and Yellow are likely to start their play-off semi-final in Scotland as slight favourites. 

But as well as having home advantage for that match, the Scots will head into the contest unbeaten in eight games, having won six of them. 

Steve Clarke's side certainly possess quality, particularly in midfield with John McGinn, Scott McTominay and Callum McGregor. 

But just like Wales and Ukraine, it is perhaps at the back where the questions lie.

Tags

EnglandUSAIranWalesScotlandUkraineWorld CupHarry KaneChristian PulisicGareth Bale
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