England 2-1 Iran: What’s your prediction?
England kick off their World Cup campaign against Iran desperate to take the final step after twice falling just short of winning the country's first major trophy in more than half a century. But a resilient Iran would be looking to better their best campaign, which saw them narrowly miss out in the knockout stage in the 2018 World Cup where they won against Morocco and drew against Portugal.
The Three Lions have been short of goals leading up to the World Cup and finding the net against an Iranian side that will most likely sit back in a compact low-block will be difficult for Gareth Southgate's men.
The Iranians will be hoping to exploit England's shaky defense where Eric Dier, John Stones, and Harry Maguire is likely to feature but based on the lineups on paper, England will most likely take the upper hand in their opening fixture.
Prediction: England 2-1 Iran
England and Iran have never faced each other.
21st November, 7:00 pm Bangladesh time.
Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar
England: (3-4-3) Pickford (GK), Stones, Dier, Maguire, Trippier, Bellingham, Rice, Shaw, Sterling, Foden, Kane
Iran: (4-1-4-1) Beiranvand (GK), Moharrami, Kanaanizadegan, Khalilzaden, Hajsafi, Ezatolahi, Jahanbakhsh, Nourollahi, Amiri, Taremi, Azmoun
Following is a statbox on England
FIFA Ranking: 5
England will be taking part in their 16th World Cup since they made their tournament debut in 1950. Their best performance came in 1966 when they won the tournament on home soil after beating West Germany in the final.
Since then it has been a regular tale of overly high expectations not being matched by actual performances, although they have come close on a couple of occasions.
They reached the semi-finals in Italy in 1990, losing to Germany on penalties, then in 2018 they again reached the last four but went down to Croatia.
England failed to qualify in 1974, 1978 and 1994.
How they qualified:
England breezed through a World Cup qualifying group which included makeweights San Marino and Andorra, going unbeaten in 10 matches with eight wins and two draws to seal automatic qualification last year.
They wrapped up their qualifying campaign with a 10-0 hammering of lowly San Marino as captain Harry Kane finished top scorer in the group with 12 goals.
England's draws came away to Poland and at home to Hungary.
After securing World Cup qualification, England have suffered a spectacular collapse in form, going six competitive games without a victory.
They failed to win a match in their Nations League campaign in a group with Italy, Hungary and Germany.
England drew three and lost three -- including twice against Hungary -- to finish bottom of the group, suffering the humiliation of relegation to League B.
A 4-0 defeat by Hungary in June was England's worst at home in 94 years, piling pressure on manager Gareth Southgate.
There were signs of life, however, in their last match before the World Cup as they hit back from 2-0 down against Germany to lead before drawing a thriller 3-3.
Following is a statbox on Iran at the World Cup
FIFA Ranking: 20
Iran have reached their third World Cup in a row but have yet to move beyond the group phase. They first qualified in 1978 and also featured in 1998 and 2006 before appearing in 2014 and 2018. Four years ago in Russia was their best performance, when a win over Morocco and a draw with Portugal saw them narrowly miss out on a place in the knockout rounds.
How they qualified:
Iran dominated Group A of Asia's final round of preliminaries, topping their group by two points ahead of South Korea. Led by Dragan Skocic, Team Melli lost just once, a 2-0 defeat by the Koreans when qualification was already secured.
Carlos Queiroz was reappointed head coach in September as a replacement for Skocic and since the return of the Portuguese the Iranians have notched up a 1-0 win over Uruguay and a 1-1 draw with Senegal during a training camp in Austria.