England may have shown one or two defensive vulnerabilities in an otherwise excellent performance against Iran, but there must be doubts over the ability of a limited USA side to exploit that. Gareth Southgate won’t be afraid of either remaining group stage opponent after a 1-1 stalemate between the USA and Wales that lacked quality, and should have Harry Kane available following a slight injury scare.
Although the possibility of a USA goal can’t be discounted, Harry Maguire should have benefited from starting the opening game, both in terms of match fitness and confidence. The United States did manage to score against England at the 2010 World Cup, though this was handed to them via Rob Green’s blunder, while their sole meeting since saw England run out comfortable 3-0 winners in a 2018 friendly. England have won eight of 11 encounters with the USA, with their last defeat to them coming back in 1993.
There are a number of the USA’s squad plying their trade in England, though only Christian Pulisic is actually playing for one of the top sides regularly. No doubt they’ll be sitting back behind the ball and hope to nick a point, and they have taken four draws from their last six now, with the exceptions an easy 5-0 win over Grenada and a 2-0 defeat to Japan. Although there was a goalless stalemate with Uruguay, further draws with Saudi Arabia and El Salvador were less impressive.
England –1 Handicap
The Unites States haven’t managed a clean sheet in their last 18 World Cup matches against European opposition, with the last time they did incidentally coming against England in 1950. Their biggest issues against Wales came when big physical presence Kieffer Moore was introduced, but Rob Page’s men lacked the artistry (with Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale looking sluggish) to break them down and with England it should be a different story.
Belgium may have laboured to victory over Canada, but Spain demonstrated the gulf between the top European and Central or Northern American sides with a 7-0 win on Wednesday. England won’t hit that kind of tally, like they did when beating Panama 6-1 at the last World Cup, but they certainly possess the firepower to score a few here. Indeed, eight of the Three Lions’ last nine wins have seen them win by a minimum three-goal margin, while they were at least four goals clear in seven of those.
ENGLAND –1 HANDICAP
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