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England thumped Iran 6-2 in their opening game of World Cup 2022 on Monday
A 1-1 draw with Wales on matchday one leaves the USA’s hopes in the balance
England may prove too strong for Gregg Berhalter’s side in Friday’s final match
The odds for England vs Iran have been sourced from the FanDuel sportsbook, which is giving out a $1000 no-sweat first bet right now.
Gareth Southgate’s side were rampant in the attack against Iran and this could be another entertaining match in Group B.
Back England to beat the USA in a match featuring more than 2.5 goals (+135)
There was some debate over how Gareth Southgate would line his team up against Iran on Monday. The England manager has used a back three and a midfield two for much of his tenure, but on this occasion, he opted for an uncharacteristically bold 4-3-3 formation. It proved to be an inspired decision, as England thrashed Team Melli 6-2.
Rather than a double pivot in midfield, Southgate selected Declan Rice as his sole holding player and encouraged Mason Mount and Jude Bellingham to push forward and join the attack. The full-backs, Kieran Trippier, and Luke Shaw were also instructed to take up positions high up the pitch. The result was that England overwhelmed Iran.
Carlos Queiroz’s players might have had their minds elsewhere. The team showed their solidarity with protestors back home by refusing to sing the national anthem ahead of kick-off. Iran were certainly not as defensively solid as we have come to expect, and England took full advantage.
There will be stiffer tests to come for the Three Lions, so it is important that no one gets carried away. But the best online sportsbooks have Southgate’s side down as one of the favorites to win World Cup 2022 for a reason. England have a good tournament record in recent years and possess plenty of talent, particularly in forward areas.
It is worth remembering, though, that starting strongly guarantees nothing at a World Cup. Spain, the eventual winners, lost their opening game in 2010. Countless sides have peaked too soon in the group stage, before bowing out in the round of 16 or quarter-finals.
Still, that would be an overly negative interpretation of what was a tremendous England display on matchday one. Southgate will hope for something similar against the USA in Al Khor.
Gregg Berhalter would have been delighted at half-time of his team’s opening game against Wales. Timothy Weah’s goal ensured the USA led 1-0 at the interval, but the team’s all-round showing would have been even more pleasing for the manager. Wales were barely given a kick by an energetic, vibrant American team, who pressed effectively and moved the ball well.
If we saw the benefits of the USA’s youthfulness in those opening 45 minutes, we arguably saw the drawbacks in the second period. Wales fought their way back into the match and the USA were powerless to resist the momentum-changing hands.
Perhaps a more experienced team would have found a way to stem the tide, but the USA lost control and were ultimately punished when Gareth Bale notched an equalizer from the penalty spot.
A 1-1 draw was a fair result, but the USA’s failure to press home their advantage must have been a source of disappointment for Berhalter. Still, there were positives to take from the performance, especially in the first half.
The USA will have less of the ball against England but they have players who can cause them problems. It is worth noting that, even in a dominant display, the Three Lions conceded twice against Iran. The doubts over their defense have not yet subsided, and the USA will hope to be in a position to take advantage.
This is suddenly an important match for the Stars and Stripes. A win against Wales would have taken the pressure off, but Monday’s tie means a defeat here would leave them up against it with one game left to play.
It will be interesting to see if Southgate adjusts his tactics for this match. A switch to a back three may happen at some point this winter, but it would be a surprise if he deviates from the 4-3-3 after such an impressive display against Iran.
The USA’s biggest quality is their energy and aggression, which helped them to take control of the match against Wales early on. They will have less possession here, however, and may have to be more measured with their off-the-ball work to avoid tiredness as the match wears on.
That should not be too much of an issue, as this USA side has always looked more dangerous when playing in transition - as demonstrated by the quick break forward that led to Weah’s goal against Wales.
The problem could be at the other end. England have an abundance of attacking quality, and if things are not quite quickly for the starting players Southgate has the luxury of bringing on the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford.
It is hard to see how the USA will be able to keep England quiet here. Their best hope is probably nicking a goal on the counter-attack and then defending stoutly, but even that might not be enough. Back the Three Lions to win and over 2.5 goals on Friday.
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Teams: England vs USA
Location: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar
Time: Friday, 25 November 2022, 2:00 PM EST
How to Watch: Fox Sports, Telemundo, fuboTV
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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