With England opening up our World Cup 2022 campaign with a pretty comfortable 6-2 victory over Iran last Monday, whilst England fans will have their own issues with the performance, the biggest positive was obviously the initial three points as we look to put a poor Nations League campaign behind us during the build up to the first ever winter tournament, and with five different goalscorers getting themselves off the mark, that will only work wonders for confidence as we go into our second Group B clash against the United States.
Having picked up all three points from the opener, for those fans who like a flutter on World Cup betting, there will be good odds on England now securing a place in the top two of Group B should they be able to secure victory over the United States on Friday evening and pick up another three points.
Going into the USA game, head coach Gareth Southgate will be in confident mood, particularly in light of England’s form going into the tournament, and as we now battle for a place in the final 16 stage of the competition – and hopefully secure what most people expected us to get, top spot in Group B – he felt the team was back on track and the Iran match had shown that we were ‘regaining our respectability on the world stage’.
There will be those fans who disagree given his more defensive and less entertaining pivot in recent years, and with all due respect, we conceded two against Iran, so many more will be worried about what happens when we come up against a team with a greater known threat – but there were some elements of Southgate’s speech that you had to agree with.
“This is a good period for English football. At junior level, at senior level, with our women’s team, there’s lots of positive things going on. We feel we can be competitive for many years to come and that’s the aim – to have a sustained challenge in the later stages of the big competitions and we’ve not done that for years and years. These players are putting the country on the map and regaining our respectability on the world stage – we need to keep doing that.”
The USA will be a different challenge though, and Southgate appreciates that and with Wales up as we close out the group we definitely want to be in the position where we have qualified before we face them, as they will be even more determined to take a win over us.
“If we win we qualify and the first objective is to qualify from the group. We have three matches to do so and if it takes all three we have to be ready for that. Have we ever beaten the States in a major tournament? No, so we have to try to make history. We’re good at talking highly of ourselves as a nation with no evidence so we need to perform well. We will play a highly-motivated team and have huge respect for the opponents. We know their players and the quality and athleticism they have so we have to be at our best – I don’t think we will be underestimating USA.”
England fans will see what happens on Friday night but given the performances Three Lions fans have seen over the last 18 months, it is very unlikely any of the current crop of players will be vying for a place on the list of the World Cup’s greatest of all time any time soon. Betway Insider compiled their own list as build up to Qatar was underway, and there will be very few fans who can disagree with them narrowing it down to (as per the above video) to Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Zinedine Zidane, Pele and Diego Maradona.
Explaining their choice of G.O.A.T.s, as made by five goats of their own, they said.
“His versatility on the pitch, goalscoring prowess and cheetah-like speed on the ball undoubtedly place Ronaldo among the best players ever. His hat-trick against Spain in 2018 is undeniably one of the greatest World Cup performances off all time, as he scored a flawless free-kick in the 88th minute to earn a point in a 3-3 draw and become the oldest player to ever score a World Cup treble.”
“For Messi’s greatest World Cup moment, we’ve gone with his performance in Brazil in 2014. Not only was he top scorer for Argentina – which included a corker of a strike to send Iran packing, and netting a free-kick with pinpoint accuracy against Nigeria – he was also named the best player of the tournament and won the Golden Ball award.”
“You can’t speak of Zidane without mentioning his heroic performance in the 1998 World Cup final, scoring two headers against Brazil and winning the tournament for France for the first time ever. His graceful display as he floated past defenders with ease and set up his teammates for victory is certainly one for the history books.”
“His single best World Cup moment? There’s only one we could go with. From the deftest of touches to receive the ball and the single-handed demolition of England’s defence, to sliding past Peter Shilton under pressure. It’s a moment still referred to as the goal of the century. God-like, we’d say.”
“If we had to pick Pelé’s greatest moment, it would have to be winning Brazil’s first World Cup against Sweden in 1958 at just 17 years old, making him the youngest scorer in World Cup history. During the final, Pelé scored one of the greatest goals ever, effortlessly flicking the ball over the defender and volleying into the back of the net.”