England lock horns with the USA in their second fixture of Group B at the Al Bayt Stadium.
The Three Lions come into this game with high confidence after an emphatic 6-2 win over Iran. The Stars and Stripes are the latest victims of Gareth Bale, who always seems to come in clutch in the biggest moments.
In the 11 times that England and the USA have met in major tournaments, England have been victorious on 8 occasions: scoring a whopping 39 goals. History suggests that England should enjoy this fixture.
On the other hand, recent history illustrates a worse picture for England fans, with 2010 probably still haunting some. This was when Rob Green’s howler gifted the USA a point at the South Africa World Cup, which resulted in the USA topping the group.
Gareth Southgate had been under a lot of pressure before this World Cup with fans criticising him for his defensive style of football, but these worries were put to bed against Iran.
England’s outstanding performance was rewarded with goals galore, as Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka (2), Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, and Jack Grealish all netted for the Three Lions. Southgate’s side showed that they can be got at, though, as Iran’s Taremi recorded a brace.
The Three Lions dominated the ball against Iran, who are 20th in the FIFA World Rankings. They had a massive 78% possession and wonderkid Jude Bellingham completely ran the midfield, with 96% pass accuracy and 113 touches.
Over to the opposition, the USA took the lead after just 9 minutes against Wales, with Timothy Weah’s strike breaking the deadlock. Unfortunately for the Stars and Stripes, Gareth Bale shattered the American dream from the penalty spot after a clumsy Zimmerman challenge, equalising in the 82nd minute.
The USA’s biggest strength is also their biggest weakness, youth. They have an extremely young side packed with potential, and they could be described as young, fit, energetic and exciting. Young players almost play like they have nothing to lose, and in a situation against favourites England, the USA will need this.
The positivity of youth also comes with lack of experience. Big games need big leaders and role models, and the USA don’t quite have that. Despite being a top-level football player, 23-year-old Leeds United midfielder Tyler Adams is an interesting captain choice. He has the qualities of a leader but is also at such a tender age in his first World Cup.
England have the confidence of knowing that their stars, such as Saka and Bellingham, have the youthful courageousness and energy, whilst also having the maturity of major tournaments under their belts.
These two lionhearted stars will surely play a huge role in tonight’s game after impressing earlier this tournament.
Looking ahead to tonight’s game, Harry Kane could face an injury setback after going off with an ankle problem in England’s first game in Group B.
Recent news over the last couple of days seems to suggest that Harry Kane had a scan on his ankle, but it was most likely for precautionary reasons. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford told The Mirror: “I think he is good, just a little bit sore.”
Harry Kane should be available for selection tonight, and Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker is also back in contention to start. Harry Maguire is also reported to be fine, after illness worries emerged.
The only player certain to miss out is Leicester City’s James Maddison, who is coming back from a knee injury he suffered against West Ham.
As for the USA, Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah both came off with slight injuries against Wales. If either of them are unlikely to start, American fans are suggesting that Leeds United’s Brenden Aaronson should slip into midfield.