Ahead of their Group B clash against the United States on Friday (8pm/ORF1) in Al Khor, England are aiming for an early jump into the World Cup last 16. By defeating the Americans, the 1966 champions would have a knockout stage ticket in their pocket after just two matches. Not only did the tournament start well for the English with a 6: 2 victory over Iran, the situation for the personnel was also rosy – Harry Kane and Harry Maguire were ready for action.
The Commander and the Minister of Defense have been suffering from minor illnesses lately, but they took part in their last training session on Thursday. Chairman Gareth Southgate was relieved that Kane’s injury from the Iran game was not as bad as he had originally feared. “When he fell, I held my breath. Thank God everything is fine,” said the coach.
Kane currently has 51 goals for the national team, just two short of Wayne Rooney’s record. And goalkeeper Jordan Pickford confirmed that the Tottenham striker is indispensable for the Three Lions not only because of his goalscoring qualities. The Everton professional said: “Harry is amazing. He leads the way, he’s the leader. We all follow him.”
Kane is placed in the English attacking section at the center of the attack, behind him there is a prominent scramble for other places. Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford were on the starting bench against Iran. Midfielder Judd Bellingham said: “The quality we have in attack is insane.”
Not only the professional Dortmund player, but also many fans at home now believe in his first major trophy in 56 years. Southgate, on the other hand, prefers to hit the brakes. The head of the team warned, “We have to be better against the United States than against Iran. They will come at full speed.”
His pick has won eight of his previous eleven encounters with the Americans, but he’s still waiting for a win over the US team at the World Cup. In 2010 it was 1-1 matte – and in 1950 it was 0-1 for England. This defeat is still considered one of the biggest embarrassments in the mother country of football.
In the US camp, one believes in a new sensation. “England are a great team, but it’s not like we don’t stand a chance,” said goalkeeper Matt Turner. The Americans started the finals with a 1-1 draw against Wales, and a win was a possibility. “But now the first game is over, we can feel the atmosphere. It’s easier to control your nerves there,” said midfielder Younes Moussa.
All eyes on Iran’s players
In Friday’s Group B match (11am/ORF 1), Austria and Wales will want to preserve their last-16 chance with victory. After a 1-1 draw with the USA, star striker Gareth Bale & Co. are aiming for their first victory in a duel with Iran. Meanwhile, the Persians are under even greater pressure after defeating England. The two teams meet for the first time in a competitive match.
But it gets interesting again before the game kicks off. Recently, Iranians coached by Carlos Queiroz have not been singing along to the national anthem, showing their support for the protests at home. This is expected to be the case again. There is a lot of pressure on the team, not only from a sporting point of view, but also from a political point of view. A look at the World Cup’s past offers little hope – in five appearances so far, promotion has never been decided, and only one of the smallest of the eleven matches has been won.
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