Everything you need to know about Group B at the World Cup

Wales

Iran

United States

England

England

United States

Wales

Iran

England

United States

Wales

Iran

England

United States

Wales

Iran

If the U.S. men’s national team is going to mark its return to the World Cup with a prolonged run in Qatar, it will need to navigate a manageable but tricky group. After finishing fourth at the 2018 World Cup and second at Euro 2020, England is one of this tournament’s teams to beat. Wales is a sentimental favorite after its aging golden generation secured the country’s first World Cup appearance since 1958. And Iran is a rising power from the Asian confederation coming off a dominant qualifying campaign.

Here’s a closer look at Group B, which kicks off Nov. 21 when the United States meets Wales and England faces Iran.

England

England has long been branded as soccer’s underachieving giant — a country that invented the game and hosts the world’s most lucrative league, but whose national teams were known for premature tournament exits. The past five years, however, have flipped that script: The men’s team advanced to the 2018 World Cup semifinals and Euro 2020 final and the women’s squad won the European Championship this past summer.

England

in the World Cup

England won the World Cup it hosted in 1966.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

Not a FIFA

member

’34

’38

’50

’54

England 4,

Germany 2

’58

’62

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England

in the World Cup

England won the World Cup it hosted in 1966.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

Not a FIFA

member

’34

’38

’50

’54

England 4,

Germany 2

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

England

in the World Cup

England won the World Cup it hosted in 1966.

England 4,

Germany 2

Champion

Final

Semifinals

Quarterfinals

Round of 16

Group stage

Not a FIFA

member

Did not

participate

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

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’94

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England’s fourth-place finish in Russia four years ago marked just the third time the Three Lions had advanced to the semifinals, following another fourth-place run in 1990 and the nation’s lone title in 1966 — a controversial win over West Germany on its home soil, with the help of an extra-time goal that, famously, may or may not have actually crossed the line.

After a heartbreaking shootout loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final in London — with young stars Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missing three straight attempts to doom England to defeat — the Three Lions rallied to win their World Cup qualifying group with an 8-0-2 record and a UEFA best plus-36 goal differential. This fall, however, did bring a worrying setback: relegation from England’s UEFA Nations League group with an 0-3-3 record.

Coach

Gareth Southgate

Projected lineup

L. Shaw

H. Maguire

R. Sterling

D. Rice

E. Dier

H. Kane

J. Pickford

J. Bellingham

J. Stones

B. Saka

K. Trippier

Coach

Gareth Southgate

Projected lineup

L. Shaw

H. Maguire

R. Sterling

D. Rice

E. Dier

H. Kane

J. Pickford

J. Bellingham

J. Stones

B. Saka

K. Trippier

Projected lineup

L. Shaw

H. Maguire

R. Sterling

D. Rice

E. Dier

H. Kane

J. Pickford

J. Bellingham

J. Stones

B. Saka

Coach

Gareth Southgate

52 years old

K. Trippier

Manager Gareth Southgate, the 52-year-old former England international who has overseen England’s recent resurgence, boasts a player pool packed with young talent but also tested by deep tournament runs. Among the rising stars angling for playing time in England’s attack: Manchester City’s Phil Foden (22), Chelsea’s Mason Mount (23) and Arsenal’s Saka (21).

While it’s still early in those players’ international careers, this tournament represents the best chance for England’s in-their-prime core to leave a mark. Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is coming off a European Championship in which he allowed just two goals in seven games. Harry Maguire, the much-maligned Manchester United center back who tends to fare better for country than club, anchors the defense. Chelsea’s Raheem Sterling practically willed England to the Euro 2020 final with his pace and unpredictability.

The star

Harry Kane

29 years old, London, England

Tottenham Hotspur FC

National

team stats

75

games

51

goals

The star

Harry Kane

29 years old, London, England

Tottenham Hotspur FC

National

team stats

75

games

51

goals

The star

Harry Kane

29 years old, London, England

Tottenham Hotspur FC

National team stats

51

75

goals

games

But no player can seal his legacy quite like Harry Kane, the 29-year-old Tottenham striker who could very well surpass Wayne Rooney as England’s all-time leading scorer by tournament’s end. Having scored at least 17 goals each of the past eight Premier League campaigns — leading the league three times — and claimed the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot with six goals in Russia, Kane leads from the front with his aerial prowess, link-up play and finishing touch.

United States

Four years removed from missing out on the World Cup in Russia, the U.S. national team returns to the global stage with an unprecedented glut of young stars playing in Europe’s top leagues. With the United States co-hosting the 2026 tournament, the trip to Qatar represents a crucial inflection point for the program.

The U.S. men's national team

in the World Cup

The USMNT made it to the semifinals in the first World Cup, played almost a century ago in Uruguay.

Since then, the best result was 20 years ago at the 2002 World Cup.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

The U.S. men's national team

in the World Cup

The USMNT made it to the semifinals in the first World Cup,

played almost a century ago in Uruguay. Since then, the best result was 20 years ago at the 2002 World Cup.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

The U.S. men's national team

in the World Cup

The USMNT made it to the semifinals in the first World Cup,

played almost a century ago in Uruguay.

Since then, the best result was 20 years ago at the 2002 World Cup.

Champion

Final

Semifinals

Quarterfinals

Round of 16

Group stage

Did not

participate

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

That 2018 qualifying failure snapped a streak of seven straight trips to the World Cup, with the Americans advancing out of the group stage in three of their past four tournaments. That included a run to the 2002 quarterfinals, which represents the best U.S. performance at a World Cup aside from a semifinal finish in the inaugural 1930 event that featured just 13 teams.

The U.S. men’s World Cup squad will face off against Wales, Iran and group favorite England in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. (Video: Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)

The U.S. squad bounced back with a string of successes under Gregg Berhalter — a key defender on the 2002 team and former coach of MLS’s Columbus Crew — while still enduring significant growing pains. In the summer of 2021, the Americans staked their claim to regional dominance by notching extra-time defeats over rival Mexico in back-to-back finals to win the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup. But World Cup qualifying made for a bumpy road, with the U.S. squad going 7-3-4 and only edging Costa Rica on goal differential to claim the region’s third and final automatic berth to Qatar. And the Americans underwhelmed in their September tuneups, failing to score in a loss to Japan and a draw with Saudi Arabia.

Coach

Gregg

Berhalter

Projected lineup

A. Robinson

W. McKennie

C. Pulisic

A. Long

T. Adams

J. Ferreira

M. Turner

W. Zimmerman

Y. Musah

T. Weah

S. Dest

Coach

Gregg Berhalter

Projected lineup

A. Robinson

W. McKennie

C. Pulisic

A. Long

T. Adams

J. Ferreira

M. Turner

W. Zimmerman

Y. Musah

T. Weah

S. Dest

Projected lineup

A. Robinson

W. McKennie

C. Pulisic

A. Long

T. Adams

J. Ferreira

M. Turner

W. Zimmerman

Y. Musah

T. Weah

Coach

Gregg Berhalter

49 years old

S. Dest

Gone are the days when Americans were nowhere to be found in the UEFA Champions League, with AC Milan right back Sergiño Dest (on loan from Barcelona), Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie and Borussia Dortmund attacker Gio Reyna among the U.S. players seeing minutes in soccer’s most prestigious club competition. There’s plenty of American representation in the illustrious Premier League as well, with Fulham left back Antonee Robinson and the Leeds United duo of midfielder Tyler Adams and attacker Brenden Aaronson locked in as starters for their clubs.

Berhalter will have some tough lineup choices to make going into Qatar, though. Walker Zimmerman’s center back partner is up in the air after Miles Robinson suffered an Achilles’ injury this past spring. FC Dallas’s Jesus Ferreira has the inside track on the starting striker role, but that position has been a revolving door during Berhalter’s tenure. Although Arsenal backup Matt Turner and Zack Steffen split time between the posts in qualifying, Berhalter simplified that decision when he surprisingly left Steffen off the roster completely.

The star

Christian Pulisic

24 years old, Hershey, Pa

Chelsea FC

National

team stats

52

games

21

goals

The star

Christian Pulisic

24 years old, Hershey, Pa

Chelsea FC

National

team stats

52

games

21

goals

The star

Christian Pulisic

24 years old, Hershey, Pa

Chelsea FC

National team stats

21

52

goals

games

This U.S. team could live and die on the form of Christian Pulisic, the crafty 24-year-old winger who became the most expensive American player in history when he made a $73 million move to Chelsea in 2019 and helped the Premier League power win the 2020-21 Champions League title. After putting the U.S. team on his back and nearly carrying it to Russia as a teenager, the Hershey, Pa., native has been champing at the bit for the past five years to make his World Cup debut.

Wales

More than six decades after making their first and only World Cup appearance, the Dragons booked their return visit in time to give their aging golden generation — led by 30-something stars Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey — a chance to secure a spot in Welsh footballing lore.

Wales

in the World Cup

This will be Wales’ first World Cup appearance in 64 years.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

Not a FIFA

member

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Wales

in the World Cup

This will be Wales’ first World Cup appearance in 64 years.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

Not a FIFA

member

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Wales

in the World Cup

This will be Wales’ first World Cup appearance in 64 years.

Champion

Final

Semifinals

Quarterfinals

Round of 16

Group stage

Not a FIFA

member

Did not

participate

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

After advancing to the 1958 World Cup quarterfinals, Wales failed to qualify for 15 straight tournaments before ending the drought this cycle. The road was a long one: After finishing second to Belgium in UEFA’s Group E with a 4-1-3 record, Wales secured its spot by defeating Austria and then Ukraine — in a match delayed three months because of Russia’s invasion — in the qualifying playoffs. That success came after Wales qualified for its first European Championship in 2016 and made a stunning run to the semifinals, then advanced to the round of 16 at Euro 2020.

Coach

Rob Page

Projected lineup

N. Williams

D. James

B. Davies

J. Allen

W. Hennessey

K. Moore

J. Rodon

A. Ramsey

G. Bale

C. Mepham

C. Roberts

Coach

Rob Page

Projected lineup

N. Williams

D. James

B. Davies

J. Allen

W. Hennessey

K. Moore

J. Rodon

A. Ramsey

G. Bale

C. Mepham

C. Roberts

Projected lineup

N. Williams

D. James

B. Davies

J. Allen

K. Moore

W. Hennessey

J. Rodon

A. Ramsey

G. Bale

C. Mepham

Coach

Rob Page

48 years old

C. Roberts

After leading Wales at Euro 2020 and through World Cup qualifying on an interim basis, Rob Page officially took the reins this past summer when Ryan Giggs stepped down as coach amid accusations he assaulted his ex-girlfriend. Page will turn to a veteran-heavy roster in Qatar, including Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, versatile Tottenham defender Ben Davies, Swansea City midfielder Joe Allen and Ramsey, a Nice midfielder who enjoyed a productive run at Arsenal from 2008 to 2019.

The star

Gareth Bale

33 years old, Cardiff, Wales

Los Angeles FC

National

team stats

108

games

40

goals

The star

Gareth Bale

33 years old, Cardiff, Wales

Los Angeles FC

National

team stats

108

games

40

goals

The star

Gareth Bale

33 years old, Cardiff, Wales

Los Angeles FC

National team stats

40

108

goals

games

Although Bale was banished to the bench toward the end of his eight seasons with Real Madrid, the 33-year-old winger — known for his blistering runs down the flank and highlight-reel strikes — still racked up more than 100 goals for the club after signing from Tottenham on a then-record $130 million transfer in 2013. Already Wales’s all-time leader scorer, Bale struggled with form and fitness after joining Los Angeles FC this past summer but did score the dramatic extra-time equalizer as the club won MLS Cup.

Iran

Can Iran finally find its way out of the group stage? The nation has qualified for six World Cups — including five of the past seven and three in a row — but never made it past the first round. After a third-place finish at the 2019 Asian Cup and a stellar World Cup qualifying campaign, Iran may be on the cusp of breaking through — even if coaching uncertainty looms over the squad.

Iran in

the World Cup

Iran played its first World Cup in 1974, withdrew in 1982 and was disqualified in 1986.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

Not a FIFA

member

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Iran in

the World Cup

Iran played its first World Cup in 1974, withdrew in 1982 and was disqualified in 1986.

Did not

participate

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

Not a FIFA

member

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Iran in

the World Cup

Iran played its first World Cup in 1974, withdrew in 1982 and was disqualified in 1986.

Champion

Final

Semifinals

Quarterfinals

Round of 16

Group stage

Not a FIFA

member

Did not

participate

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

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’02

’06

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’14

’18

The Iranians have notched just two wins in their World Cup history: A 2-1 victory over the United States in 1998 and a 1-0 result against Morocco four years ago. Iran also had a respectable 1-0 loss to Spain and played Portugal to a 1-1 draw, leaving it just short of a place in the knockout round. Iran secured its 2022 World Cup spot by going 8-1-1 in the final round of Asia’s World Cup qualifying, edging South Korea for first place in Group A.

Coach

Carlos

Queiroz

Projected lineup

E. Hajsafi

S. Ghoddos

M. Taremi

M. Hosseini

S. Ezatolahi

S. Azmoun

A. Beiranvand

H. Kanaanizadegan

A. Jahanbakhsh

A. Nourollahi

S. Moharrami

Coach

Carlos Queiroz

Projected lineup

E. Hajsafi

S. Ghoddos

M. Taremi

M. Hosseini

S. Ezatolahi

S. Azmoun

A. Beiranvand

H. Kanaanizadegan

A. Nourollahi

A. Jahanbakhsh

S. Moharrami

Projected lineup

E. Hajsafi

S. Ghoddos

M. Taremi

M. Hosseini

S. Ezatolahi

S. Azmoun

A. Beiranvand

H. Kanaanizadegan

A. Nourollahi

A. Jahanbakhsh

Coach

Carlos Queiroz

69 years old

S. Moharrami

Despite Iran’s recent progress, Dragan Skocic was dismissed as coach in June, then hastily reinstated six days later before being replaced for good by Carlos Queiroz in September. Thus, the Portuguese coach — who previously led the team from 2011 to 2019 — finds himself at the helm of an experienced squad, which includes AEK Athens defender-midfielder Ehsan Hajsafi, Feyenoord winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Porto forward Mehdi Taremi.

The star

Sardar Azmoun

27 years old,

Gonbad-e Kavus, Iran

Bayer Leverkusen

National

team stats

65

games

41

goals

The star

Sardar Azmoun

27 years old,

Gonbad-e Kavus, Iran

Bayer Leverkusen

National

team stats

65

games

41

goals

The star

Sardar Azmoun

27 years old, Gonbad-e Kavus, Iran

Bayer Leverkusen

National team stats

41

65

goals

games

The player to watch, if healthy, is Sardar Azmoun. A 27-year-old forward who moved from Zenit St. Petersburg to German stalwart Bayer Leverkusen earlier this year, Azmoun has scored at a prolific clip since debuting for Iran as a teenager in 2014. Although Azmoun retired from international play after Iran’s first-round exit in Russia four years ago, saying the insults he received for his performances there ruined his mother’s health, he returned to the national team less than four months later. But Azmoun was expected to miss six to eight weeks with a calf injury suffered in early October — a time frame that had put his World Cup participation in question.

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