England will qualify for the knockout stage if they win this clash. But a loss to the US could land them in trouble.
Who: England vs USA, Group B
Where: Al Bayt Stadium
When: Friday November 25 at 22:00 (19:00 GMT)
ranking: England (5), US (16)
Supported by them sparkling 6-2 victory over Iran, England go into Friday’s game against the USA brimming with confidence and knowing another win will secure their progress to the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Gareth Southgate’s team will look to build on Monday’s promising performance and were boosted by news that captain and star striker Harry Kane is expected to be fit to play after the 29-year-old has recovered from an ankle injury sustained in the Three Lions. opening fixture.
Expect Kane to be assisted by Bukayo Sakawho scored twice in the win against Iran, and 19-year-old midfielder Jude Bellingham, who scored his first international goal in England’s opening game.
For their part, the US will be looking for an improved performance after an initially promising start against Wales on Monday gave way to a disappointing 1-1 draw, with Gareth Bale’s penalty in the second half canceling Timothy Weah’s 36-minute opener.
“Captain America” Christian Pulisic, who plies his trade for Chelsea in the English Premier League, will do so again lead the side from the front. Several other members of the squad are also regulars in the Premier League.
But familiarity counts for nothing on both sides of the Atlantic and within the confines of Al Bayt Stadium, where the so-called “special relationship” between the two countries is interrupted for 90 minutes as they battle for supremacy on the pitch.
England clear favourites
England are expected to come out on top, with their opening win demonstrating a dramatic return to form after a pre-tournament dip in results saw them go six games without a win.
Southgate’s decision to use a more attacking 4-3-3 formation – a switch from his previously favored 3-5-2 system – paid off, with the midfield trio of Bellingham, Declan Rice and Mason Mount adding dynamics and creativity abound.
Other positives for the side included winger Raheem Sterling, who was under pressure to make it to the World Cup after a run of slack displays for Chelsea, capped off a lively display with a goal in the 46th minute. Substitutes Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford also found the back of the net late.
After the game, however, alarm bells went off by both Southgate and several of his players due to basic defensive mistakes that allowed Iran to beat goalkeeper Jordan Pickford twice.
They know that the US has the quality to capitalize on any repetition of those mistakes and will likely put up more resistance at the rear than the Iranians could muster.
But the pressure is overwhelming on USA coach Gregg Berhalter’s players. A loss on Friday will see them need to win their final game – against Iran – to have any chance of advancing past the group stage.