|Country||FIFA Rank||Odds to win WC|
England seems to be the country that underperforms expectations far more often than they exceed them. That said, recent runners-up at EURO 2020 and semi-finalists in 2018 World Cup, things may finally be tipping in their favor. Southgate’s side emerged unbeaten & have scored more than any other European side in their qualification campaign. The EPL is the most competitive European league by a long shot & it’s hard not to back the league’s top talent in this year’s tournament. It’s always interesting to see players put aside their domestic league rivalries to unite on the biggest stage in world football & I don’t foresee any problems on that front with the Three Lions. Another squad boasting a potent combination of experience & explosive youth talent, I expect England to easily emerge atop Group B leaving second spot up for grabs among the very closely matched likes of Iran, USA, & Wales.
Prediction: Winner Group B
Iran’s run in Russia in 2018 was both unexpected & unforgettable. After coming away with 3-points in a nearly impossible group that featured both Spain & Portugal (not to mention only conceding 2 goals in the process) they still finished third in the group and saw themselves eliminated in the group stages after an unprecedented effort. Sitting just 1 spot behind Wales & 4 behind the USA in FIFA’s rankings, Iran should not be taken likely & certainly have what it takes to one-up their 2018 performance. Led by Leverkeusen’s Sardar Azmoun, the nation’s top-scoring active player should line-up alongside Taremi & Jahanbakhsh in a dangerous front 3 that will give Iran the confidence necessary to upset their slightly favorited counterparts. Whether they will be capable of pulling that off is the real question, & as much as I love an underdog story I can’t fancy them to better both the USA & Wales to make it to the round-of-16.
Prediction: Eliminated in Group Stage
The last time we saw the USA on football’s biggest stage was at the hands of Tim Howard in an unforgettable, thrilling overtime loss to Belgium in the round-of-16 in Brazil. You never expect the USA to fail to qualify from CONCACAF, but that’s exactly what happened in 2018 & it was painful. Back with a vengeance & a new look squad some are calling the golden generation, the USA’s presence on the world football stage has been increasing at a rate that’s hard to not get excited about. With more players than ever before competing for silverware among European’s best, we’ve got an exciting squad that will be hungry to prove themselves. Led by Chelsea’s Pulisic & backed by Milan’s Dest, Juventus’ McKennie, Dortmund’s Reyna, among other rising talents, I’m truly excited for the US this World Cup & fancy them to make it out of what looks to be the most evenly matched group at this year’s tournament.
Prediction: 2nd Place in Group B
At 34-years-old, Gareth Bale looks set to retain his role as talisman for the Dragons. For some, that’s an exciting prospect & while there’s no denying his status as one of the great’s of European football history, I think it’s telling of Wales lack of talent throughout the last decade. Backed by veterans Ben Davies, Aaron Ramsey, & Joe Allen, Wales will need to rely on their experience if they’re to make it past the US. Daniel James & Neco Williams provide the excitement of young talent & will be looking to seize their opportunity on the big stage, but I simply don’t see Wales having the depth it takes to emerge from 3 high-intensity games they’re sure to face. Anything can happen in such an evenly matched group & one or two mistakes from the US or Iran could see Wales sneak into the round-of-16, but I wouldn’t put my money on them.
Prediction: Eliminated in Group Stage