England and Wales will clash in their third and final group game in a fixture which is crucial for both sides’ hopes of qualification.
Gareth Southgate’s team began their campaign with a record breaking 6-2 win over Iran, but were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw in their second group game against USA. Meanwhile, Rob Page’s side began their tournament with a hard fought 1-1 draw against USA before falling to a shock 2-0 defeat against Iran.
England are clear favourites entering the game against Wales and will secure a place in the knockout stages if they can avoid a four goal defeat. Rob Page’s side will be aiming to cause an upset in their final group game - anything less than a win for them will end their dreams of glory in Qatar 2022.
Although England are edging closer to a place in the knockout stage of the competition they will be keen to finish their group stage campaign on a high. Southgate’s side will also be looking to top their group to earn a more favourable tie in the round of 16.
The Three Lions will be keen for a response after a lacklustre performance against USA and the game could be an opportunity for Gareth Southgate to add a few fresh faces to the starting line-up.
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How did England play against USA?
The Three Lions entered the game against USA on a massive high after an emphatic 6-2 victory over Iran and Gareth Southgate’s side were clear favourites to record back to back victories.
England endured a drab 0-0 draw against the United States and were lucky to come away with a point. England were largely second best in every department across the pitch and struggled to match the intensity and exuberance of the USA who dominated the midfield battle. Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams were amongst the star performers for USA while Christian Pulisic was a constant threat throughout the game with his pace and dribbling ability.
England struggled to match the energy levels displayed in their opener against Iran. However, the draw still leaves the Three Lions in good stead to progress to the knockout stages and anything other than a capitulation will see Southgate’s side progress to the round of 16.
Who should England start against Wales?
Gareth Southgate’s side will be keen for a response in their final group game and a victory will secure top spot in Group B and a favourable draw in the round of 16.
Southgate has used a 5-2-3 formation in the past in major tournaments and it remains to be seen whether he will revert back to that in games to come. Wales will need to commit bodies forward in the hopes of getting a win and it is likely that Southgate will continue to use the 4-3-3 formation in the hopes of exploiting Rob Page’s side in the wide areas of the pitch.
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford
Jordan Pickford has been an ever-present for the Three Lions in the last two major tournaments and has rarely put a foot wrong for England in that time. It is important to have stability in the goalkeeping area and the 28-year-old is likely to remain in goal.
Right back: Kieran Trippier
Kieran Trippier was far from his best in the previous game against USA but still offers a key threat going forward - particularly from set piece deliveries.
Trippier has been one of the standout performers for Newcastle throughout the Premier League season so far, but will need to be at his best if he is to see off competition from Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold over the remainder of the tournament.
Centre back: Harry Maguire
There were many question marks surrounding Harry Maguire’s form for Manchester United heading into the World Cup after a poor start to the 2022/23 season. However, Maguire has impressed in both of England’s opening two matches in Qatar and deserves to keep his place in the final group game.
Centre back: John Stones
England’s centre back partnership of John Stones and Harry Maguire was the main positive from the game against USA. The Yorkshire-born duo have started 13 of England’s 16 major tournament games under Gareth Southgate and it seems likely that they will continue in defence for the final group game.
Left back: Luke Shaw
Manchester United left back Luke Shaw has impressed in both of England’s opening two group games and offers a key threat for the Three Lions going forward.
Shaw is the only out and out left back in Southgate’s squad so he is likely to keep his place in the team providing that England stick with a back four.
Centre midfielder: Jude Bellingham
Jude Bellingham scored England’s opening goal of the tournament against Iran and was one of the star performers for the Three Lions in the first group game.
However, the 19-year-old struggled to have the same effect on the game against USA and was replaced by Jordan Henderson after 70 minutes. Despite a weak performance, Bellingham still remains one of England’s best midfield options and he offers more of a threat going forward than the likes of Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips.
Centre midfield: Declan Rice
West Ham United star Declan Rice has enjoyed an excellent season in the Premier League and has featured in every minute of every game for The Hammers this campaign.
The 23-year-old was instrumental for the Three Lions during their run to the final in Euro 2020. Rice offers the perfect protection from the back four and has more match fitness than the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Jordan Henderson.
Centre midfielder: James Maddison
England’s performance was unrecognisable from the creativity and fluidity shown in the opener against Iran. The Three Lions were devoid of any spark and zip and struggled to create any clear cut opportunities.
The midfield needs freshening up for the game against Wales and who better to turn to then James Maddison. The 26-year-old has been a stand out performer for Leicester City throughout the season and has so far managed to score an impressive seven goals whilst also providing four assists.
Maddison has been a key player for the Foxes in all of the last four seasons and is unfortunate to have just one England cap to his name.
Right winger: Bukayo Saka
Bukayo Saka was exceptional in England’s opener against Iran and scored an impressive two goals as the Three Lions cruised to victory.
The 20-year-old struggled to replicate that form against USA but still offers a great deal going forward in terms of pace and creativity and remains one of England’s most exciting wide players.
Striker: Harry Kane
Harry Kane is one of the most talented strikers in world football and has been a key player for England in the last two major tournaments. The 29-year-old is yet to score at Qatar and will be aiming to get off the mark in the next game against Wales.
Left winger: Phil Foden
Phil Foden is one of the best young talents in world football and has been a revelation for Manchester City over the last three seasons.
Foden has enjoyed an excellent season so far for Pep Guradiola’s side this season - recording seven goals and making four assists. He is regularly used as a winger for Manchester City and could provide a key spark in attack for the Three Lions against Wales.
After the game against USA, Gary Neville criticised the decision not to play Phil Foden. Neville said: “Phil Foden is a generational talent and I feel as though he has to play, he has to be played into form and it has to work for England.
“He plays for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and I think he would be in the Argentina, Brazil, Spanish, French and German starting XIs.”