Dan’s World Cup Predictions Group B
I’m probably less confident about England lifting the World Cup now than at any point in months.
The problem with having the tournament in the middle of the season is that you need the luck of having players on form for their clubs come November.
It’s not Southgate’s fault that too many of his squad are either not playing well or are not playing at all.
In an ideal world of course, a manager wants to pick 26 names who are all playing every week, but I’m not sure such a talent pool exists.
Harry Maguire was dropped by Man United, Sterling hasn’t been the same version we saw at Man City, Trent Arnold’s form is all over the place, James is injured, Walker’s had surgery, Phillips has played 12 minutes this season.
There’s just too many talents not performing at the required level.
It’s counterproductive for Three Lions supporters to turn on Southgate now. The consensus is he’s too pragmatic, sacrificing an offensive talent for an extra defender.
Yet that’s what got the country closer than anyone to winning a first trophy since 1966.
Yet again I think the draw will be kind to England.
Even if they play poorly, England should be comfortably winning their group.
Because I think Holland win Group A, but France won’t win theirs, it’s a straightforward path to the semi-Finals.
Will lose once they face one of the big names.
Predicted finish – Semi Finals
No point pretending that Iran are not going to make headlines for reasons nothing to do with sport.
Especially in the week building up to their fixtures with England and the USA.
Ukraine have joined others (including Iranians themselves) in requesting the country get expelled from the World Cup.
Even if your stance is that football shouldn’t be mixed with politics, FIFA does have their own rules that are potentially being broken if accusations against Iran are true.
They have investigated in the past to prove if Iran’s FA are being controlled by their government, which is not allowed according to the game’s governing body.
An example would be that its suggested Iran’s footballers want to join other sport stars and celebrities from their nation in protesting against how women protestors have been treated.
It’s not easy though to be in the public eye in Iran and be viewed criticising your own government.
It all overshadows this being Asia’s highest ranked team and better then the versions who have won only two times in the history of this tournament (one being America).
Purely based on football, they can get results against the US and Wales.
Yet what’s going on in their homeland is bigger and if you got players already not receptive to be representing a regime they disagree with, it might be hard for Carlos Queiroz to get the best out of them.
Predicted finish – Group Stage
There was uproar in America when they failed to qualify for the World Cup 4 years ago.
It forced the USSF to review nearly every aspect of the sport and put an action plan in place.
It’s led to several young players being developed and snapped up by major European clubs.
COVID has meant the team hasn’t been able to test themselves against highest levels then CONCAF.
They love their ‘soccer’ so much in the US that they have enough knowledgeable fans to know one of the youngest squads in the competition might find this a tournament too soon.
There would even be an acceptance that this is a stepping stone to be prepared for the edition they co-host in 4 years’ time.
That’s if their group was tougher.
Anything else than being competitive against Wales and Iran would be viewed as failure.
Predicted finish – Group Stage
Wale’s first World Cup since 1958!
The perfect culmination of the fairy tale the national team have been on for years.
It wouldn’t shock me if Gareth Bale retired from the sport after this, it’s almost like he’s been keeping fit and waiting for the honour of leading out his country to Qatar.
For the likes of him and Ramsey this is their swansong, yet they have surpassed expectations so often that it’s no longer a shock if they do well.
As 4th seeds this is such a kind draw.
If their best players show up (they often do) they can get results against USA and Iran.
Nothing for the Welsh to fear.
Predicted finish – Last 16
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