Because the group stage draw was made before all the qualified teams for the 2022 FIFA World Cup were determined, Group B presents an interesting situation. Wales, which is ranked 18th in March, is supposed to be Pot 3 instead of Pot 4 if countries were organized according to world rankings. This makes the group a virtual group of death with the lowest ranked team being Iran in 21.
How will top seeds England and USA do in Qatar with this kind of competition?
FIFA rank (at time of draw): 5
Key players: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling
How they qualified: UEFA Group I winners
Best FIFA World Cup performance: Champion – 1966
- The Three Lions came close to bringing home a trophy just last year when they fell short to Italy in the final of UEFA Euro 2020. Whether they make it all the way this time remains to be seen.
- Gareth Southgate has been England coach for the second straight FIFA World Cup tournament. If his calls up are ay indication, he deploys a set core of players even if their form in the club level appear to be contradictory.
FIFA rank (at time of draw): 21
Key players: Ehsan Hajsafi, Sardar Azmoun
How they qualified: AFC third round Group A winners
Best FIFA World Cup performance: Group stage – 1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018
- The final round of the qualifier was a cakewalk as both Iran and South Korea were more than ten points clear of the closest pursuer. In contrast, Team Melli were in a three-headed dogfight with neighbors Iraq and Bahrain in the second round.
- The World Cup 2022 would be Dragan Skočić’s first time in the big stage. Nevertheless, he is quite familiar with the country’s program and setup, having managed clubs there since 2014.
FIFA rank (at time of draw): 15
Key players: DeAndre Yedlin, Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic
How they qualified: CONCACAF third round third place
Best FIFA World Cup performance: Third place – 1930
- Missing the World Cup in Russia put a damper somewhat in the hype and momentum of decent showings in past editions. That said, the first “Octagonal” was not in any way easy for the Stars and Stripes, as the battle of the top five seeds on top of the standings was fierce.
- Eight years in between appearances is a long time. Gone were the stalwarts from last decade, and in now are a bunch of new faces as well as a different coach in Gregg Berhalter.
FIFA rank (at time of draw): 18
Key players: Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey
How they qualified: UEFA second round Path A winners
Best FIFA World Cup performance: Quaterfinals – 1958
- One can say it was a lifetime ago when Wales last stepped in this hallowed contest. The Welsh first made waves this millennium when they reached the semifinals of UEFA Euro 2016.
- Y Dreigiau made the most out of the new qualifier format even if it took more matches to lock a slot to Qatar, going past Austria then Ukraine.
England vs United States, November 25, Al Bayt Stadium
Wales vs England, November 29, Ahmad bin Ali Stadium
The thing with both the US and England is that they are consistently inconsistent. Depending on what side of the bed they wake up, they will either have a performance of a lifetime or a heartbreaker of a disappointment.
Wales is an unknown entity, while Iran has not gone past the round robin to generate a large enough sample size.
Indeed, this group is wide open.
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