Historic old allies meet again as England will be looking to build on their FIFA World Cup 2022 opening day rampant win over Iran when they take on USA at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar on Friday night.
The Three Lions are aiming to solidify their position at the top of Group B, and a win over their foes will all but surely secure their place in the knockout stages of this prestigious competition. The Stars and Stripes drew with Wales in their opening clash and will be looking to cause a stir in England’s hopes.
Following memorable previous World Cup and European Championship campaigns, the optimism and hope surrounding Gareth Southgate’s squad seemed to dim during their winless UEFA Nations League campaign. However, The Three Lions performed a statement victory over Iran on Monday to show the whole world that they are once again on the right track to potentially going a step further from their final disappointment at Euro 2020 last year.
Bukayo Saka was twice on the scoresheet along with Jude Bellingham, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish Despite the 6-2 thrashing, Southgate revealed his disappointment post-match, stating he was “fed up” after FC Porto’s Mehdi Taremi netted two goals to give Iran some sort of consolation and indeed, England will certainly need to improve their focus and concentration against a USA side stacked with quality, athleticism and youth.
Southgate’s men will be looking to claim maximum points in their opening two group matches at a World Cup for the fourth time when they face USMNT, a record they’ve previously done so in 1982, 2006 and 2018. Their second fixture at during the 2018 showpiece saw them cruise to an impressive 6-1 victory against Panama.
England have won eight of their last 11 meetings with their allies across all competitions scoring an astonishing 39 goals in the process, and they will be aiming to further enforce their dominance over the Americans on Friday as they look to increase the gap between themselves and their opponents.
USA began their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign, with a 1-1 draw over Wales on Monday, a game in which they dominated for much of the opening stages until a player continuing his career over in States restored parity for the Welsh.
Timothy Weah, son of former footballer and international star George Weah, bagged the opening goal nine minutes before the interval. But Gregg Berhalter’s men lost all their energy and spark in the second half allowing Wales the confidence to go on and claim a much valued point after Gareth Bale’s 82nd-minute equaliser from the penalty spot.
Berhalter has been criticised for his side’s drop-off against Wales, but believes his team “left everything” on the pitch, but knows his side cannot afford a similar second-half performance against a rejuvenated England.
The Americans are aiming to make an impression during this competition, seeing as they will be hosting the next finals along with Mexico and Canada in 2026, and much of their young talents will be trying to make a name for themselves on the grandest stage. Grabbing a victory over England will be the perfect way and platform to do just that.
USMNT managed to progress from the group stage in their previous two World Cup campaigns finishing ahead of the likes of Portugal in 2014 and finishing above England on goal difference in 2010. Their last meeting with the Three Lions was a memorable 1-1 draw, which saw Robert Green fumbling a Clint Dempsey strike, helping the Americans to grab a top-place finish ahead of Fabio Capello’s team.
USA head into Friday’s crucial clash unbeaten in their previous two competitive meetings with England, including a shock 1-0 group-stage triumph back in the 1950 edition, and Berhalter’s men certainly possess the quality and youthful exuberance to cause another upset on this occasion.
When & Where?
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar.
Date: Friday 25th November.
Time: 19:00 PM.
England have been boosted by the latest news that captain and star man Harry Kane has not suffered a serious injury to his ankle after being on the end of a dreadful tackle against Iran on Monday, and Southgate has revealed the Tottenham Hotspur forward will be available for selection on Friday evening.
As for the USA, both midfield enforcers Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah came off with respective groin and toe injuries in the draw with Wales which looked to be a precaution, though they should be fit to retain their places alongside captain Tyler Adams.
It will be intriguing to see how Gareth Southgate’s men deal with USA’s pace and electricity in the opening stages, especially if the Three Lions coach persists with both Harry Maguire and John Stones as his tried and trusted centre-back pairing.
Mehdi Taremi caused the Manchester pair all sorts of problems despite England’s rampant win, running onto loose balls, his movement and his bullish nature which they certainly found out in Iran’s second goal. Timothy Weah offers a similar threat, with his speed in behind, aerial presence and exuberance as USA’s lone frontman.
Declan Rice in the holding role, in front of Maguire and Stones, will be pivotal for England in shutting out USA’s ball-progression to Weah, but also the threat of Christian Pulisic who likes to drift inside from the left-flank.
Southgate’s men will be looking to impose themselves from the off, and the mix of quality in his arsenal means England will be expected to grab all three points, but as stated previously, it won’t be easy.
The American’s possess three of Europe’s most dynamic, creative and energetic midfield trios in Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and former Arsenal academy product Yunus Musah. Berhalter’s midfield three have the quality to overpower and overrun Southgate’s midfield pair in Rice and Bellingham which means they would need extra help when defending their own goal from either Mason Mount or Phil Foden, depending on who is tasked to fill the no.10 role in Southgate’s hybrid 4-2-3-1 setup.
That shape may have to alternate to a 4-3-3/4-5-1 setup when USA in possession, stopping centre-back Tim Ream’s intricate line-breaking passes to USA’s midfield and attacking threat.
Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna is another of Berhalter’s youthful attacking threats who will be hoping to force his way into the attack after being an unused substitute against Wales, and with Sargeant struggling to make an impact against Wales, Reyna indeed deserves an opportunity to stake a claim, and he is one England must keep their eye on.
Premier League players to keep an eye on
England: Bukayo Saka
What a year Bukayo Saka has had. Arsenal player of the season and top goalscorer last year, leading the club to five points clear at the top of the table this campaign, before the World Cup break and now bagging a brace in his first-ever World showpiece start.
All this coming after the terrible racial abuse he suffered following his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy in the summer of 2021.
The maturity, grace and character at which the 20-year-old has shown to pick himself up after that disappointment to now become one of the finest footballers of his generation right now is absolutely sensational to see.
In Saka, England now possesses a winger they can rely on for the long haul and don’t be surprised to see him add to his tally on Friday evening. He will be a crucial component for Gareth Southgate once again.
USA: Tyler Adams
Many will argue with this pick, in that Christian Pulisic has and always will be USA’s go-to man for success, especially against England on Friday night, but if you watched their draw with Wales, you’d find it was another one of their key stars who arguably performed even better than the Chelsea forward, and that man is Tyler Adams.
The Leeds United midfielder was sensational on Monday evening, registering 86 touches, 62 accurate passes with a 90% success rate, completing four of his five long balls, winning six of his nine ground duels and also two of his three aerial duels despite his relatively small frame.
Adams has always been known for his athleticism, energy and dynamism in the midfield of the park. In fact, he’s performed brilliantly during his first Premier League spell so far this campaign, and carried that forward against Wales.
His ability to break up play, press and unsettle his midfield opponents is one of his great calling cards, mind you, he’s won the fourth most tackles (28) of any Premier League player so far this campaign, but as the aforementioned stats show, he is also a reliable and progressive outlet in his passing and if the US are to grab the headlines against their historic foes on Friday evening they would need Adams at his dynamic and rampant best at the base of Berhalter’s midfield.
England predicted XI vs USA: Pickford (GK); Trippier, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Bellingham; Saka, Mount, Sterling; Kane.
USA predicted XI vs England: Turner (GK); Dest, Zimmerman, Ream, A. Robinson; McKennie, Adams, Musah; Weah, Reyna, Pulisic.