2022 FIFA World Cup Group B: England looking to sustain rise

2022 FIFA World Cup Group B: England looking to sustain rise

2018 World Cup semifinalists, EURO 2020 runners-up England to play with Iran, US, Wales

By Can Erozden

ANKARA (AA) – Things have been looking up for the English national team in recent years with an appearance at the World Cup semifinal in 2018 and the 2020 European championship (EURO) final held in 2021.

The Three Lions are craving a world title in Qatar 2022 which will begin on Nov. 20, coming off a steady performance in those tournaments.

The European football giant and 1966 world champions did well until the EURO 2020 final, losing the European title to Italy on penalties at London's Wembley Stadium in the summer of 2021.

England won the World Cup qualification -- UEFA Group I to qualify for Qatar 2022. The Three Lions were in the same qualifying group with Poland, Albania, Hungary, Andorra, and San Marino.

At the 2022 World Cup Group B, England will play with Iran, the US, and Wales.

The national team has played in 15 World Cups since 1950.

Before that time, England were not a FIFA member. After becoming a member, England missed the 1974, 1978, and 1994 tournaments.

In Russia 2018, England finished fourth in the campaign, losing to Belgium 2-0.

Manager Gareth Southgate announced the World Cup squad earlier this week that includes high-profile stars Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, and Jordan Henderson.

But Manchester United forward Jadon Sancho and Roma forward Tammy Abraham were not included in Southgate's final 26-man squad.

Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), James Maddison (Leicester), and Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) are other stars worth watching in Qatar.

- England squad

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle), and Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal).

Defenders: Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Arsenal), John Stones (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Conor Coady (Wolves), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), and Luke Shaw (Manchester United).

Midfielders: Declan Rice (West Ham), Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Mason Mount (Chelsea), and Conor Gallagher (Chelsea).

Forwards: Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), James Maddison (Leicester), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), and Callum Wilson (Newcastle).

- Iran seeking World Cup final 16 spot for 1st time

Iran, who played in 1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, and 2018 tournaments, were unable to make the final 16 in those campaigns.

In Qatar, the team will try to make it out of the group stage for the first time.

Forward Sardar Azmoun will be key in Qatar.

The 27-year-old played for Iran in the 2018 World Cup but the team were eliminated in the group stage.

Azmoun, a current Bayer Leverkusen forward, has scored 41 goals in 65 matches for the national team since 2014.

Mehdi Taremi, a Porto forward, is another of Iran's goal threats.

Taremi, 30, tallied 27 goals in 60 caps for Iran.

Iran got into Qatar after winning the FIFA World Cup qualification – AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Third Round, where they played with South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

- US relying on Pulisic-led golden generation

The US are one of the countries having a big effect on world football with several young stars.

The Americans are hanging their hopes on a solid performance from Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic.

Also, Borussia Dortmund attacker Gio Reyna, Leeds United midfielder Brenden Aaronson, Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie, and AC Milan right-back Sergino Dest will be the keys to advancing the US in the World Cup.

The US have so far qualified for 10 World Cups but they were absent in Russia in 2018.

In the inaugural tournament in 1930, the Americans made it to the semifinal -- their best result.

But in modern times, the Stars and Stripes had their best showing in 2002, beating rival Mexico 2-0 to reach the quarterfinals. But Germany eliminated the US 1-0 in the final eight.

- US squad

Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath (Luton Town), Sean Johnson (New York City), and Matt Turner (Arsenal).

Defenders: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic), Sergino Dest (AC Milan), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Shaq Moore (Nashville), Tim Ream (Fulham), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), and Walker Zimmerman (Nashville).

Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (Leeds United), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (Valencia), and Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders).

Forwards: Jesus Ferreira (Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Josh Sargent (Norwich City), and Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor).

- Wales return to World Cup after drought

In June, the Welsh national football team booked a spot in the World Cup, ending a 64-year drought.

Wales eliminated Ukraine 1-0 in a playoff match to make Qatar 2022. Forward Andriy Yarmolenko scored an own goal to send the Dragons to the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958.

In Sweden in 1958, Wales were eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Wales amazed football authorities in EURO 2016 when they reached the semifinals. They made the last 16 at the EURO 2020.

Former Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, 33, remains the Dragons' star.

Before their success at EURO 2016, Wales established a squad full of young players alongside experienced members Bale and Aaron Ramsey.

- Wales' World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Nottingham Forest), Danny Ward (Leicester City), and Adam Davies (Stoke City).

Defenders: Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest), Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur), Ben Cabango (Swansea City), Joe Rodon (Rennes), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Ethan Ampadu (Spezia), Chris Gunter (Wimbledon), Connor Roberts (Burnley), and Tom Lockyer (Luton Town).

Midfielders: Aaron Ramsey (Nice), Joe Allen (Swansea City), Harry Wilson (Fulham), Joe Morrell (Portsmouth), Dylan Levitt (Dundee United), Rubin Colwill (Cardiff City), Jonny Williams (Swindon Town), Matthew Smith (Milton Keynes Dons), and Sorba Thomas (Huddersfield Town).

Forwards: Gareth Bale (Los Angeles), Daniel James (Fulham), Kieffer Moore (Bournemouth), Mark Harris (Cardiff City), and Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest).

- Group B fixtures

Nov. 21

England-Iran at 1300GMT

US-Wales at 1900GMT

Nov. 25

Wales-Iran at 1000GMT

England - US at 1900GMT

Nov. 29

Wales-England at 1900GMT

Iran-US at 1900GMT

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