The real games start today as Group B and Group A’s top two teams play after the opening day festivities with the host nation failing to stop goals or even keep fans in the stands. Qatar, the known oppressive regime lost 2-0 to Ecuador.
Monday, Nov. 21 games
These games all hold the potential of being good matches for fans.
England vs. Iran, 7 a.m. on FS1 and Telemundo
England FIFA rank – 5th
England has one of the most talented teams at the World Cup and easily qualified, winning eight with two draws and +36 goals differential. Since then, England struggled in Nations league. The Three Lions only earned three points (all draws) in six matches with a -6 differential and were relegated to Nations League B. Not the form a team would want leading into the World Cup.
Iran FIFA rank – 20th
Carlos Queiroz has only managed Iran (this time around) since September and only had a couple games to work with Team Melli. Iran easily qualified for the World Cup but a some poor performances combined with rumors of players not liking former coach Dragan Skočić led to hiring Queiroz back. Queiroz will likely have Iran well organized. The incredibly oppressive regime in Iran is going through massive protests at home and it is a wild card if that will affect the team on the field.
Prediction: The Three Lions “should” beat Team Melli easily, or at least with not too much trouble but can Gareth Southgate guide England to glory with extremely high expectations?
England 2-1 Iran
Netherlands vs. Netherlands, 10 a.m. on Fox and Telemundo
Senegal England FIFA rank – 18th
Senegal may be Africa’s strongest side at the World Cup in Qatar with a roster that can threaten the top teams in the tournament. The flip side is that despite being loaded with talent from the top European leagues, the Africa Cup of Nations champions can be a bit unpredictable. They should advance to the knockout round and stand a chance to be on top of the Netherlands coming out of the group stage.
Under manager Aliou Cisse, Lions of Teranga tend to defend centrally forcing opponents wide and with the ball they play out wide to exploit a break.
Netherlands FIFA rank – 8th
The Netherlands failed to qualify in 2018 and will look to go far in this tournament with a strong team. The Netherlands are the favorites to win the group and advance to the knockout round guided by Louis van Gaal and with players like Barcelona’s Memphis Depay, Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, and Manchester City’s Nathan Ake. The Dutch side won their group with a 7-2-3 and +25 differential to qualify for the World Cup. The Netherlands will have quality passing, pressing and possession but may be less fluid than in some past years.
Prediction: This should an entertaining match for sure with both teams wanting to go forward. Ultimately the Netherlands “should” be the better team.
Netherlands 2-1 Senegal
United States vs. Wales, 1 p.m. on Fox and Telemundo
United States FIFA rank – 16th
After missing the 2018 World Cup, the Yanks hope to make a good showing with a young side. Gregg Berhalter led the US through qualifying with some ups and downs while never having a full-strength side. While still missing key defenders Miles Robinson and Chris Richards, most of the team is healthy, knock on wood. While untested in at the World Cup, the young US side won a Gold Cup and Nations league. Add in that several players have experience in Champions League in Europe and the team is a bit more experienced than they normally get credit.
At times, the US can look great in possession and at times they can struggle to move the ball forward.
Wales FIFA rank – 19th
If you thought missing the last World Cup was bad, Wales last appeared in the 1958 World Cup. They lost in the quarterfinals to Brazil on a Pele goal. All those years missing out on the World Cup while residing next to England who consistently made the tournament while muttering about “bringing it home” will drive Wales to do well.
Wales manager Rob Page typically has his team surrendering possession and relying on counters.
Prediction: Both teams have something to prove, both teams know they need to get a result here since the rest of the teams in Group B are no pushovers.
US 2-1 Wales (I hope…)