This is it, right? “It’s coming home,” yes? Does England finally end their half-century plus (and counting) trophy drought? In the last major international competition, Euro 2020 (staged in 2021 due to Covid), England took Italy to penalties before losing in the final.
In the major competition before that, the 2018 World Cup, Three Lions reached the semifinals before bowing out. So glory is the next logical step, right? As Disco Stu would say, “if these trends continue.”
World Cup Group Stage FYIs
Kickoff: 7am CST, Mon Nov 21 Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Current FIFA world ranking: England 5 Iran 20
World Cup titles: England 1 Iran 0
World Cup Highest Finish: England 1st, 1966 Iran never advanced past the group stage
Previous World Cup appearances: England 15 Iran 5
These are all facts that you’re well aware of, of course, as fans of the national team where the modern game was invented. We’re not citing these factoids for you, but for the newbie readers who are showing up now that it’s World Cup time.
England’s first opponent, Iran, is really making headlines off-the-pitch more than on-the-pitch right now, and that’s a topic beyond the scope of this article.
We will say though that we commend the Iranian players for when they have spoken out on issues that are much bigger than football.
England Starting XI Prediction, Team News vs Iran (4-2-3-1):
Pickford; Trippier, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Bellingham, Rice; Saka, Mount, Sterling; Kane
Prediction: England 2, Iran 0
With such a gulf in talent and depth, I fully expect chalk to hold serve here
Paul M. Banks is the Owner/Manager of The Sports Bank and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”