England will begin their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign with a game against Middle East opponents Iran.
Venue: Khalifa International Stadium (Doha)
England are winless in their last six matches (D3, L3).
They have scored 12 of their last 18 World Cup goals from set pieces.
The Three Lions are making their seventh World Cup finals appearance in a row, making it their longest qualifying streak.
Iran have won 13 of their last 15 competitive games (D1, L1).
They have kept six clean sheets in their last ten games.
They have failed to score only twice in their last 20 games.
Head to head
This will be the first official match between both teams.
Latest performances in all competitions
Gareth Southgate and his well-fancied England side will look to get off to a good start in Doha when they play Iran.
The Three Lions have enjoyed relative successes in their two previous tournaments, making it to the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup before narrowly missing out on the European Championship title last year.
They will look to go one step further in Qatar this year and end over 50 years of hurt, having not won a major trophy since 1966, when they won the World Cup.
Team captain Harry Kane has spoken confidently ahead of their opening game, stating: “We’ve been trending well in major tournaments, so there’s only one more step to take”.
However, their form coming into this game has been abysmal. Gareth Southgate’s side are winless in their last six matches (D3, L3), which subsequently saw them suffer UEFA Nations League relegation. They scored just four times in that period, handing ammunition to Southgate’s critics, who accuse the 52-year-old of being too conservative with his initial gameplan.
But, the English coach can point to a successful World Cup qualification campaign in which they breezed through the group to book their place at the finals. The Three Lions avoided defeat in all ten matches (W8, D2), scoring a scintillating 39 goals and conceding just three; that was the best group-stage goal difference for any European qualifier (+36).
And so, they arrive in Qatar as one of the competition favourites then and should fancy winning this group ahead of the USA, Wales and Iran, who are all ranked behind England (#5) in the FIFA rankings.
Possible England starting line-up
Jordan Pickford; Kieran Trippier, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice; Bukayo Saka, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling; Harry Kane.
Doubtful: James Madison
Like England, Iran also enjoyed a remarkable run in their qualification stage, winning eight of their ten qualifier games (D1, L1) to finish top of their group.
However, ahead of this tournament, the odds were firmly stacked against the Asian side, who are making it to their third straight World Cup finals after they ended 2019 with successive second-round qualifying defeats.
Regardless, they come into this fixture in good form, having lost just one of their last 15 competitive games while keeping six clean sheets in their last ten games.
Under the stewardship of Carlos Queiroz, Iran will fancy their chances of going far in this competition. The Portuguese manager made a steady start during his second stint in charge. He went undefeated across his opening three matches (W2, D1) before suffering defeat in their final warm-up game against Tunisia on Wednesday.
But he’ll now be hoping a positive result in this clash in Doha can set his side up to progress out of the group stage for the first time and give fans back home something to cheer about amid the continuing civil unrest.
Possible Iran starting line-up
S. Hossein Hosseini; Sadegh Moharrami, Hossein Kanaani, Majid Hosseini, Ehsan Haji Safi; Saeid Ezatolahi, Saman Ghoddos, Ahmad Nourollahi; Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi.
|England to win||Draw||Iran to win|
England 2-1 Iran