World Cup 2022 Group B Team Previews
Will football come home this year? The Lionesses already united the nation with their European Championship win, and it may have kicked a little inspiration into Gareth Southgate's England team. England were amongst the favourites to win the 2018 World Cup, and after reaching the semi-finals they were highly touted to go all the way. The nation's expectations were cut short when Croatia knocked them out in the semi-finals. In 2020, the English team threatened to win the European Championship and managed to make their way to the finals, beating their old rivals Germany along the way. In the finals, they played Italy and after a tense game that finished in a draw, the game went to extra time and then penalties. England's history with penalty kicks came back to haunt them as they lost and the nation's hopes were crushed. However, the recent win by the English women's team has given the fans a sense of hope for the upcoming World Cup.
Iran have entered the World Cup on 5 separate occasions, but they have never managed to survive the group stage. The team has had international success winning the Asian Cup three times, the Asian Games three times and the West Asian Football Federation four times, though the last competition they won was in 2008. The Iranian team qualified for the World Cup first in 1978, when they won 10 of their 12 qualification games. They would enter their second World Cup 20 years later, in 1998. Here they were placed with Germany, Yugoslavia, and the United States. Iran lost two games but their highlight of the tournament came when they beat the United States 2-1. In 2006, and 2014 they finished at the bottom of their groups, after only managing to draw in one of their games and lose the other two. In 2018, they had a slight improvement on their record when they finished third. In that edition they played in an extremely tough group featuring Spain, Portugal and Morocco, and though they lost to Spain, they beat Morocco and managed a last minute draw with Portugal. However, it was not enough to put them through to the knockout stage.
The United States
The United States has entered the World Cup 10 times. They competed in the inaugural World Cup, which was held in Uruguay in 1930. The United States also had its best World Cup run in that competition, reaching the semi-finals and then finishing in third place. They entered the competition in 1934 and then 1950, but then did not qualify for a record 40 years. In 1990, the US returned to the World Cup but were knocked out in the group stage. In the following year, they hosted the tournament so they received automatic qualification. They passed the group stage but were knocked out in the round of the last 16. In 1998, they qualified again but were knocked out in the group stage. In 2002, the United States managed to survive the group stage and then went on to beat Mexico in the round of the last 16. They then faced Germany in the quarterfinals but the German football team crushed their World Cup aspirations. In 2010 and 2014, the US managed to make it to the knockout stages in both competitions, but were knocked out by Ghana and Belgium, with both matches going to extra time.
Wales does not have the same history as the other teams in this group. The Welsh only qualified for the World Cup in 1958, and the Qatar 2022 World Cup will be their second entry in the prestigious competition. In their first outing, they did manage to reach the quarterfinals, but they were knocked out by the eventual winners, Brazil. The Welsh team had a similarly good run in the 2016 European Championship, when they reached the semi-finals and then placed third.