Desperate to open this year’s World Cup adventure with a statement in Doha, England will open their Group B campaign with a showdown against Iran on Monday afternoon.
Starting with England, while the Three Lions might have signed off their pre-World Cup preparations with an action-packed 3-3 draw at home against Germany, Gareth Southgate does find a huge amount of pressure on his shoulders. Shockingly losing their elite Nations League status during September’s international break, the 2018 semi-finalists also failed to win any of their six League A showdowns. Enduring their longest winless run since 1993, England will be desperate to open their Middle Eastern adventure with a statement in Doha.
Still tipped as a landslide pick to cruise their way to the knockout stage, Southgate will be calling on his attacking talisman to spearhead their charge in Qatar. Once again finding the net as Tottenham eventually claimed a 4-3 victory against Leeds on November 12th, Harry Kane has already bagged 12 Premier League strikes from his opening 15 appearances.
Despite struggling to get much first-team action with Manchester United over the past couple of months, Harry Maguire will start at the heart of England’s defence on Monday afternoon. Borussia Dortmund starlet Jude Bellingham should partner West Ham’s Declan Rice in midfield.
Missing out on back-to-back training sessions earlier in the week, Leicester’s James Maddison is not expected to feature here.
As for Iran, while Iran might know that they need a minor miracle if they’re to find a route out of Group B this year, Carlos Queiroz’s side will know that they face a huge task on Monday afternoon. However, cruising their way to Qatar and enjoying an eye-catching romp during their qualifying adventure, the one-time Manchester United coach should find the mood in his camp at a real high. Signing off their pre-World Cup preparations with a 1-0 victory against Nicaragua on November 10th, the Whites have lost just a pair of their previous 21 matchups across all formats.
With that impressive flurry stemming all the way back to November 2019, Queiroz’s side have also gained somewhat of a reputation for their rugged displays at the back. Including a shock 1-0 win against South American giants Uruguay during September’s international break, Iran will be hoping to ask England a few questions here.
Continuing to impress with Portuguese giants Porto this season and already notching 12 goals for club and country, 30-year-old Mehdi Taremi will spearhead Iran’s charge on Monday afternoon.
Ex-Brighton star Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Bayer Leverkusen ace Sardar Azmoun should also feature in Doha.