Day two of the World Cup and it’s a huge one for fans of England, Iran, Senegal, Netherlands, Wales and the United States.
The 2022 edition of the most famous tournament in the world got underway on Sunday as Ecuador comfortably dispatched hosts Qatar 2-0, but all eyes are now focused on a fuller day of action and the introduction of two sides who have high hopes of going far.
Gareth Southgate’s England kick off the day’s action against Iran, hours before Wales get their first World Cup campaign in 64 years underway against Gregg Berhalter’s United States.
There’s also a first glimpse at the Netherlands, managed once again by the legendary Louis van Gaal, and Sadio Mane-less Senegal – the Lions of Teranga definitely now without their star man after a late injury picked up playing for Bayern Munich.
17′ – No surprise, Beiranvand slumps to his knees again and will now be carried off. He’s obviously concussed and will be replaced by Hossein Hosseini – a player Iran really don’t seem to want to bring on.
14′ – Seven minutes of treatment and Beiranvand is unbelievably carrying on. His nose is almost certainly broken and he can barely stand – player safety again put on the back burner.
7′ – A really nasty clash of heads there. Really nasty. Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand takes a whack full in the face and it looks like he’s concussed. Shouldn’t be carrying on if due protocol is followed.
4′ – A bright start by England and surely a foul on Harry Maguire from an in-swinging corner? Not the case, according to the 7-strong VAR panel.
England (4-3-3): Pickford, Trippier, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Bellingham, Rice, Mount; Saka, Kane (c), Sterling
Iran (4-5-1): Beyranvand, Moharrami, Cheshmi, Hosseini, Mohammadi; Jahanbakhsh, Noorollahi, Pouraliganji, Hajisafi, Karimi; Taremi
England’s bid to end a 56-year wait for a second World Cup begins against Iran on Monday lunchtime.
In one of the most controversial tournaments since, well, the 2018 World Cup in Russia, England kick off their campaign against an Iranian side they would well be advised not to underestimate, especially as the Three Lions are known for starting slowly at tournaments.
Euro 2020 was evidence of that, on the goals front at least, but also showed England’s ability to play the situation (tournament style football) rather than be overwhelmed by the occasion.
The reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions Senegal face an in-form Netherlands side on Monday afternoon.
Aliou Cisse’s team followed up their first-ever continental triumph in February with a playoff victory against Egypt to secure World Cup qualification. However, Sadio Mane – the integral talisman that scored the decisive spot kick in both of those triumphs – will no longer take part after being ruled out through injury.
The Netherlands have fitness concerns of their own but come into their first World Cup since 2014 in excellent form. The Dutch are unbeaten in 15 matches since Louis van Gaal was appointed manager for the third time last year.
Prediction: Senegal 1-2 Netherlands
The United States face Wales on Monday evening in the second match of a competitive Group B.
No other group at the 2022 World Cup contains four nations ranked inside the top 20. Sandwiched between England (fifth) and Iran (20th), the United States (16th) and Wales (19th) are poised to meet for the second time in two years after a 2020 friendly which ended 0-0.
Here’s everything you need to know about this lofty clash.
Prediction: United States 1-2 Wales