England v Iran preview and predictions

England kick off their 2022 World Cup tournament against Iran tomorrow at the Khalifa International Stadium.

After reaching the semi-finals in 2018 and getting agonisingly close to winning Euro 2020, Gareth Southgate has a lot of pressure to succeed this tournament and take his England side deep into the knockout stages.

Before that the three lions must negotiate a tough group of Iran, USA, and Wales.

England players preparing for the opening fixture

This will be the first ever encounter between England and Iran with the Islamic Republic having never beaten European opposition at the World Cup with two draws and six losses.

With Carlos Queiroz no doubt setting his side up in a low defensive block looking to exploit space in behind on the counter, set-pieces could prove vital for England in unlocking the defence.

Kieran Trippier will therefore be of huge importance to Southgate in this tournament with his ability from set-piece delivery.

12 of England’s last 18 goals at the World Cup have been scored from set-pieces. In fact, 75% of their goals in 2018 came from dead ball situations (nine out of 12).

A solid defence is what England have based their success on under Southgate most likely utilising a 3-4-3 formation in the coming matches.

Jordan Pickford has been a mainstay for this England side and should retain his place in goal.

The three centre-backs should be John Stones, Eric Deir and Harry Maguire who has come under pressure for his poor form with Manchester United.

The use of wingbacks will be a theme throughout the entire competition and England will be no different with Luke Shaw and Trippier providing creativity from out wide.

A midfield duo of Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham should provide both the defensive security and ball progressing ability required for a solid team performance.

The front three of Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and the talisman that is Harry Kane will no doubt have enough firepower to get England off to a strong start this tournament.

Kane was the top scorer in the 2018 World Cup, with five of his six goals coming in the group stages. No player has ever been top/joint-top scorer at two different World Cup tournaments.

Despite the defensive solidity Iran are expected to show, England should get the win on Monday and hopefully the England captain can add to his already impressive international goal tally.

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