England’s first game of the Qatar World Cup is against Iran and it couldn’t come any sooner. The Three Lions have only gone out of the groups once in their last eight appearances at the World Cup finals and if they want to carry on that trend, a win here is imperative. However, the stats are against them on this one as they have only won three of a possible nine in their first game at a World Cup with wins over Tunisia twice and Paraguay, the Three Lions record in the last nine opening games is W3-D3-L2.
Iran have never managed to get out of the Group Stages, despite entering into five separate competitions. They have an awful record and have only won two of their total 15 games at the biggest football competition on the planet (W2-D4-L9). This is their third World Cup in a row and with a player like Mehdi Taremi in a rich vein of form over the last year and half, anything can happen.
The Porto man has been incredible for the Portuguese outfit and has recorded 36 goals and 26 assists (62 contributions) in the 61 starts he’s had in all competitions for club and country since the start of last season. Sardar Azmoun is not to be slept on either and at the age of 27 is already Iran’s third top goal scorer of all time with 41 goals in his 65 appearances for the national side. He plays for Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen and although he has struggled for goals in the German league his importance to the national team cannot be understated.
England To Win To Nil
We aren’t expecting many goals this World Cup, especially in the first few matches when teams will be a bit nervy and are yet to find their footing, but mainly because of the heat and humidity look to have a big impact on the way teams play.
England have won none of their last six matches (D3-L3) but before that were putting some fantastic numbers up losing none of their previous 21 (W16-D5). Although England haven’t been up to scratch in their recent fixtures, they know how much these games mean compared to the ‘importance’ of the Nations League.
We expect England to set up in a three/five back formation for the majority of this World Cup and especially if they make it to the knockout rounds, because of this we expect them to be as defensively sound as they have been in major tournaments under Gareth Southgate with them only conceding nine goals through their 14 games with him at the helm.
ENGLAND TO WIN TO NIL
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