World Cup Group B Preview

Harry Kane
(Getty Images)

World Cup 2022
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Group B at the World Cup will consist of six matches played from Nov. 21 to Nov. 29 in Qatar. The group contains England, Iran, the USA and Wales. The top two will advance to the Round of 16, while the other pair will head home.

The highest-seeded team in Group B is England. The runners-up from Euro 2020 made light work of qualification, winning eight of their ten games, conceding just three goals along the way.

At face value, a group consisting of neighbors Wales alongside Iran and the USA does not look too daunting for Gareth Southgate’s side. However, according to the Rankings, this is the highest quality section of the draw.

While the United States was the second-weakest side in Pot 2, they were still rated as the 15th best team in the world when the draw was made. At 21st, Iran is not far behind.

But the dark horse is Wales. They had not confirmed their spot in Qatar at the time of the draw, as the playoffs had not been concluded. As they were 18th in the rankings, they aren’t just the toughest team from Pot 4 but more tested than any side from Pot 3 too.

Every group at the World Cup has two teams from the top 21 in the standings. The only one with at least three is Group B, though, and it has four.

CONTENTS

World Cup Group B Table, Fixtures & Odds

TeamPWDLGFGAGDPts
England211062+44
USA20201102
Wales201113-21
Iran210146-23

Group B Match Schedule

DateMatchTime (ET)Stadium
Mon, Nov. 21England vs. Iran8 a.m.Khalifa Int'l Stadium
Mon, Nov. 21United States vs. Wales2 p.m.Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Fri, Nov. 25Wales vs. Iran5 a.m.Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Fri, Nov. 25England vs. United States2 p.m.Al Bayt Stadium
Tue, Nov. 29Wales vs. England2 p.m.Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Tue, Nov. 29Iran vs. United States2 p.m.Al Thumama Stadium

Group B could be labelled as the ‘group of narrative’. Wales vs. England in the final pair of fixtures is a local derby with plenty of history, and there will be no love lost between Iran and the United States when they clash at the same time.

England vs. Iran opens the group on November 21 as a match between the favorites and the outsiders to qualify. The fixture between the United States and Wales later that day will be key in shaping which of those sides is best placed to make the Round of 16. 

World Cup Group B Odds

TeamGroup WinnerQualify From Group
England-650N/A
USA+500-120
Wales+15000+1600
IR Iran+1000-120
Odds Provided by BetMGM - Subject to Change

As with every section of the draw, there is one odds-on favorite in Group B, and it is top-seeded England. While they are the tied for the shortest price of any side to win their respective group (at -350, as is Brazil in Group D), no team can match their odds of -3000 to qualify.

In other words, the bookmakers believe the Three Lions have around a 90 percent chance of reaching the Round of 16. More interesting is the battle between the USA and Wales to join them, with both sides given a probability of qualification in the mid-40 percent range. And though Iran are deservedly outsiders, their price of +400 to qualify is shorter than some of the weakest sides in other groups.

The USMNT is narrow favorites to win their opening match against Wales, hence their marginally better odds to qualify (+100 vs. +115).

World Cup Group B Draw

England

The phrase ’30 years of hurt’ was coined for England ahead of Euro 96. But 26 years on, they have still yet to add to their only major honor.

They have been getting closer than almost any time since they became world champions in 1966, though. Gareth Southgate steered them to the World Cup semifinals in Russia four years ago, then the European Championship final last year.

With the depth of talent they possess, it’s possible they could take the final step in Qatar. Per Transfermarkt, the top 14 most valuable players who could feature in Group B are all English. The key will be to get the best out of them.

Southgate likes the security provided by a back three, but it lessens his side’s goal threat. As teams with good defensive records tend to win tournaments, it’s a sensible tactical plan. They will need to remain solid while providing enough service to the likes of Harry Kane, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling, though.

Under their current manager, England has beaten both the USA and Wales by a 3-0 margin in friendlies in the last four years. They can be confident in winning again, but the matches are likely to be much closer.

USA

The USA was a semifinalist at the very first World Cup in 1930, but in the modern era, their best effort has been the last eight in Japan and Korea Republic 20 years ago.

Though they failed to qualify in 2018, they reached the Round of 16 in the two editions prior to that. Matching that is a realistic aim in Qatar.

Greg Berhalter’s side won half of their matches in qualification to take the final automatic CONCACAF spot behind Canada and Mexico. The concern here is that aside from a 4-1 victory at bottom-side Honduras, they scored just once in their other six away matches.

Much of their hopes will rest on Christian Pulisic, who was tied as the second top scorer in their qualification group with five goals. At the back, goalkeeper Zack Steffen looks set to leave Manchester City on loan, and playing regularly should improve his form ahead of the tournament.

This group sees repeats of some very famous matches from their World Cup history. The USA stunned England with a 1-0 win in 1950 and picked up a 1-1 draw 60 years later. But they were beaten 2-1 by Iran in 1998, losing their other Group Stage matches that year too.

Berhalter’s boys played out a goalless draw with Wales in November 2020 and will probably need to go one better against them in Qatar if they are to reach the knockout phase.

Iran

History suggests Iran’s stay in Qatar is likely to be brief. They have appeared at five previous World Cups, winning just two of their 15 matches.

However, their recent form is as impressive as could reasonably be expected (albeit they lost a friendly to Algeria in June). In their final group in the lengthy AFC qualification process, Iran won eight of their ten games, conceded just four goals, and kept seven clean sheets.

Although their manager has changed since they were at the last World Cup, Dragan Skocic looks set to approach the task in similar fashion to how Carlos Queiroz did four years ago. In Russia, their three results were 1-0, 0-1 and 1-1, and they will hope for similar (but marginally better) here.

However, since the last World Cup, their main attacking threats have improved as players. Sardar Azmoun, their top scorer in qualification, got 16 non-penalty goals in successive Russian Premier League campaigns. Similarly, Mehdi Taremi got at least 11 in the last three seasons with Porto, and both players have gained Champions League experience.

Iran has never faced England before, and their only match with Wales was way back in 1978. They will take inspiration from their victory over the USA in Lyon 24 years ago, but it’s hard to see them going any further in the competition.

Wales

As much as Wales has fared well at the last two European Championships (reaching the semifinals in 2016), this is what they have been waiting for over 60 years. Their only previous World Cup appearance was way back in 1958, and the fact they have a derby with England only adds to their anticipation.

Yet in their six meetings in the last 18 years – the one prior to that was in 1984 – they have been beaten every time, with an aggregate score of 11-1. It will be one of the biggest results in their history if they can upset the group favorites when they clash on November 29.

Few teams have enjoyed the highs and lows that Wales have. They have been eighth in the rankings and 117th at different points, rarely enjoying as sustained a period of success as they have in the last few years.

They should be entertaining, too. Both teams scored in six of Wales’ first seven matches this year, so they will hope to outscore their three opponents in Group B. If they do, Gareth Bale will no doubt be at the center of the action. The Los Angeles FC man scored both goals in their playoff semifinal, and his free-kick led to the own-goal winner in the final against Ukraine.

World Cup Group B Favorites

BetMGM’s odds have a very clear favorite and underdog. England (-350 to win the group, -3000 to qualify) is viewed as a certainty to get through Group B, while Iran (+1800 and +400 respectively) is very much a long shot to proceed. Per the bookmakers, only Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Costa Rica have less of a chance to reach the Round of 16 than the Iranians.

The intrigue comes from the two teams in-between, who barely have any breathing room between them. While neither the USA nor Wales are likely to finish ahead of England, they are +100 and +115, respectively, to qualify. Perhaps inevitably, the Welsh have the shorter odds with British bookmakers.

Strip out the patriotic factor on both sides of the Atlantic, and it’s clear it’s going to be hard to separate them. As neither team is renowned for keeping clean sheets, Wales’ slightly stronger attacking edge (a.k.a. Gareth Bale) could prove to be the difference. The odds will shift significantly should either team prevail when they face each other in their opening match of the World Cup.

Teams That Advance From World Cup Group B

The teams who make it through Group B will be drawn against the top two sides from Group A. The bookmakers believe this will be Netherlands and Senegal, with those sides facing the USA and England, respectively, if the groups finish as per the Rankings.

The potential clash between the Dutch and the Americans would be the first match of the knockout phase, on December 3. They have never met competitively, but the USA won the last friendly clash seven years ago.

England will like their chances against Senegal (or Ecuador or Qatar should an upset occur). However, they would then likely face the defending champions France in the quarterfinals. A tough test will await them.

World Cup Group B FAQ

What are the World Cup groups?

Group A: Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador, Qatar

Group B: England, USA, Wales, Iran

Group C: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia

Group D: France, Denmark, Australia, Tunisia

Group E: Spain, Germany, Japan, Costa Rica

Group F: Belgium, Croatia, Morocco, Canada

Group G: Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia, Cameroon

Group H: Portugal, Uruguay, Ghana, Korea Republic

How many teams will there be in Qatar in 2022?

There will be 32 teams taking part in the World Cup this year, with hosts Qatar the only new team among them. Aside from Italy who failed to qualify, the other seven past champions will be there and looking to add to their trophy tallies.

Who will win the Golden Ball at the World Cup?

The player who is awarded the prize for being the tournament’s best player will play for the team which loses the final, at least if history is any guide. Five of the last six recipients of the Golden Ball finished as runners-up.

Brazil (+250) and France (+275) are the favorites to be in the final on December 18. This could therefore be a battle between Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, but don’t rule out Antoine Griezmann. He was the top goal scorer and one of the top assist providers for the French in qualification.

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