Mandatory Credit: Photo by Naoki Morita/AFLO/Shutterstock (13633076c) Christian Pulisic (USA) - Football / Soccer : FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between United States 1-1 Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar. FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Al Rayyan, Qatar - 22 Nov 2022

World Cup Friday Preview: USA vs. England headlines a jam-packed weekend as the Americans hope to avoid elimination

Group B: England (No. 5) vs. USA (No. 16)

When, where: 1 p.m. CT, Al Bayt Stadium (Al Khor, Qatar)

What to expect: Friday’s nightcap contest in Qatar could easily come in as the most-viewed group play contest of the 2022 World Cup. The USA takes on England in what some say could already be an elimination match for the young Americans. If the USA loses to England and Wales defeats Iran, then the Americans would find themselves in a distant third place and need a win versus Iran and multiple tiebreakers to go their way to advance to the knockout elimination stage from Group B. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves first here, though. The English are coming off a dominant 6-2 victory over Iran on Monday, a match in which they led 3-0 at the half and held a commanding 78% time of possession advantage. Things won’t come as easily against the Americans, who were merely 10 minutes away from notching a 1-0 victory over Wales in their opening match before a Gareth Bale penalty in the 82nd minute forced a draw. The USA hasn’t beaten England since arguably the greatest upset in World Cup history all the way back on June 29, 1950. However, the two sides did play to a 1-1 draw in the 2010 World Cup. England blanked USA 3-0 in the teams’ most recent international friendly in 2018 and will still be the favorite to earn a win and another three points in a tightly-contested Group B pool. Team USA can hang its hat offensively on a solid 59% to 41% time of possession edge, and an advantage of five corner kicks to three in its opening match with Wales, although the Americans were out-mustered in total shots (seven to six) and shots on goal (three to one). It will take a herculean effort for the “Stars and Stripes” to pull off an upset in this spot, and they will surely need top form from defensive ace Christian Pulisic to get it done. A draw wouldn’t be a terrible proposition either, though, so look for a defensive-minded approach from the USA here.

Chris Dell’s prediction: England 2, USA 1

Group A: Netherlands (No. 8) vs. Ecuador (No. 44)

When, where: 10 a.m. CT, Khalifa International Stadium (Al Rayyan, Qatar)

What to expect: The Netherlands and Ecuador come into Friday’s contest in a tie for first place in Group A, and despite the large difference in world ranking between the two nations, this could be a much closer match than the Netherlands’ No. 8 world ranking and Ecuador’s No. 44 world ranking would indicate. The Ecuadorians played a clean sheet on Monday in a 2-0 shutout victory over host nation Qatar, using two goals from 33-year-old star winger Enner Valencia. It will take another solid offensive performance from Valencia and company to outlast the favored Dutch here. The Netherlands also won 2-0 in its opening match, albeit against a much better Senegal side than what Ecuador faced in its opening match versus Qatar. These two teams have only faced off twice in history, drawing 1-1 in 2014 and with the Netherlands earning a 1-0 victory in 2006 in another international friendly game. Even a draw would be considered a welcome sign for Ecuador here, especially as Qatar and Senegal fight for scraps in an elimination contest to avoid falling to the bottom of the Group A standings on Friday.

Chris Dell’s prediction: Netherlands 1, Ecuador 1

Group A: Senegal (No. 18) vs. Qatar (No. 50)

When, where: 7 a.m. CT, Al Thumama Stadium (Doha, Qatar)

What to expect: Senegal outplayed the Netherlands in many facets of their opening match on Monday, with the Senegalese holding clear edges over the Dutch in total shots (15 to 10) and shots on goal (four to three). Senegal is still a talented side and holds a top 20 world ranking by FIFA, so look for “The Lions of Terenga” to have their way against the host nation on Friday morning in what’s amounting to an early elimination for both sides. This will be the first-ever meeting between Qatar and Senegal, with the host nation “Crimsons” suffering its first loss in its last five international matches after losing 2-0 to Ecuador on opening day. Senegal is continuing to learn how to play without star Sadio Mane, who was ruled out of the World Cup last week with a leg injury. The talented African nation should still have enough depth and young talent to defeat an overmatched Qatar team here. Look for Senegal to cruise to three points.

Chris Dell’s prediction: Senegal 2, Qatar 0

Group B: Wales (No. 19) vs. Iran (No. 20)

When, where: 4 a.m. CT, Ahmad bin Ali Stadium (Al Rayyan, Qatar)

What to expect: Wales’ Gareth Bale should pack enough offensive punch by himself here to help the Welsh earn three points and a much-needed victory over Iran in this Group B match. The Iranians were completely overwhelmed on both sides of the ball in a 6-2 loss to England on Monday, and there remains doubt as to whether things will improve moving forward. With a win here, Wales would solidify itself as the second team to qualify for Group B, although it could still come down to a tiebreaker situation with the USA when it’s all said and done. Bale and company were efficient offensively in totaling seven total shots and three shots on goal against a sound defensive USA squad and could see much more room on the back-third of the field come Friday morning against Iran. Any time you see a “Matchday 2” game between two teams with one or fewer points, things could surely be played close to the vest, but I expect the offensive talent of Wales, specifically Bale, to be the difference in the end here. Iran’s Mehdi Taremi, who scored both of his team’s goals in the second half of its loss to England, will need to play at peak form to keep the Iranians in contention. If Iran can’t manage to possess the ball well, things could quickly get ugly again here like they did when Iran had the ball just 22% of the time against England.

Chris Dell’s prediction: Wales 1, Iran 0

Friday’s Schedule (Nov. 25, 2022): Matchday 2 of 3

Saturday’s Schedule (Nov. 26, 2022): Matchday 2 of 3

Sunday’s Schedule (Nov. 27, 2022): Matchday 2 of 3

Monday’s Schedule (Nov. 28, 2022): Matchday 2 of 3

Tuesday’s Schedule (Nov. 29, 2022): Matchday 3 of 3

Wednesday’s Schedule (Nov. 30, 2022): Matchday 3 of 3

2022 World Cup groups

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