Who are England playing at the World Cup? Qatar 2022 opponents - what you need to know about Iran, USA, Wales
Gareth Southgate and his players are just over a month away from boarding the plane and getting ready for their first match in Doha
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England will begin their FIFA World Cup 2022 finals when they face Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in November.
That match in Doha will be the first of three group stages matches where they will also come up against the United States of America and Wales.
Supporters of the Three Lions will of course be familiar with their neighbours and many will remember the 2010 tournament in South Africa where they met the USA at the same stage, while Iran are something of a mystery.
Here is everything you need to know about England’s group stage opponents in Qatar; Iran, USA and Wales:
- Match date: November 21
- World ranking: 20th
- Last meeting: N/A
- Star man: Mehdi Taremi
England have never faced Iran in a match, competitive or otherwise, in the history of the two nations.
Not only that but only one player in the current Iran squad currently plays football in England, Brentford midfielder Saman Ghoddos - a player who has only made two late substitute appearances in the Premier League this season.
That doesn’t mean they don’t have real quality in their squad though and Porto attacker Mehdi Taremi will be one to watch out for, with the 30-year old recently being linked with a transfer move to Arsenal.
Other key players include Bayern Leverkusen forward Sardar Azmoun, Omonia attacker Karim Ansarifard and AEK Athens defender Ehsan Hajsafi - who is their captain and has been capped 121 times.
United States of America
Match date: November 25
World ranking: 16th
Last meeting: England 3-0 USA (International friendly, November 2018)
Star man: Christian Pulisic
England vs USA in a World Cup group stage - where have we heard that before?
Supporters would sooner forget the 1-1 draw at the 2010 finals in South Africa, where a blunder by goalkeeper Rob Green saw Fulham’s Clint Dempsey ensure a share of the points.
It’s been over 12 years since that match and both squads are obviously completely different, but England will have to be aware of the talent that the Americans possess across the park.
Compared to 2010, the USA have players currently representing many of the top clubs in the Premier League in Europe including Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic in attack, Weston McKennie of Juventus in midfield and AC Milan defender Sergiño Dest who was a summer transfer target for Manchester United.
The talent pool runs much deeper than that and other players who could potentially hurt Gareth Southgate’s side include Borussia Dortmund teenage attacker Giovanni Reyna and Leeds United duo Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams.
Match date: November 29
World ranking: 19th
Last meeting: England 3-0 Wales (International friendly, October 2020)
Star man: Gareth Bale
Wales of course need no introduction to England supporters with 20 out of 23 players from their last squad currently playing in the Premier League or EFL.
Gareth Bale’s incredible career may be winding down in the MLS but he is still the biggest threat that Rob Page’s side possess - particularly from set pieces.
They have plenty of other impressive attacking options including Bournemouth hitman Kieffer Moore and Leeds United winger Dan James, but it’s Nottingham Forest’s Brennan Johnson who is the real emerging talent for the nation and his pace and directness will be a handful for the England defenders.
The two countries have faced each other plenty of times in recent years and it’s England who have dominated the results, winning all three of their most recent competitive fixtures at the 2016 and 2011 UEFA European Championships.
The last time Wales got a win over their neighbours was at the 1984 British Home Championship.