2022 FIFA World Cup futures previews and picks continue today at ATS with a breakdown of Group B’s best bets. Group B is an intriguing group from an English speaking perspective as England and Wales ignite their rivalry at the World Cup along with the presence of the Americans. Rounding out the group is the always frustrating and defensively solid Iran, who have their own geopolitical rivalry with the US to make this a group with plenty of narratives.
World Cup Group B futures betting odds see England as heavy favorites to win the group at -300 odds. The Americans are second favorites at +550, with Wales similarly priced at a price of +600. Iran are the longshot underdogs of the group, getting +1600 odds to top Group B at most sportsbooks. Here, we make our soccer betting picks for Group B.
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Bale Swan Song With Wales
Wales enters the World Cup looking to make another shock run led by their country’s greatest ever player in Gareth Bale. Unfortunately for the Welsh, the version of Bale who will lead them into Qatar is that of a player on his last legs as a professional.
Bale moved from Real Madrid to Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC this summer and failed to make much of an impact in his first season in the United States. In fact, Bale has yet to appear in LAFC’s run to the MLS Cup Final as he is far from a level where he is a Starting XI player in MLS.
The rest of the Wales squad has also declined in form since beating Ukraine for qualification into the tournament. Wales has yet to win a competitive match since their 1-0 win over Ukraine, losing four and drawing once in their five UEFA Nations League matches.
Wales’ first match of the World Cup could determine their entire fate in the tournament. The November 21 fixture between them and the USA could be the decider for second place in Group B as if one of the two nations manage to win the match, they would have a major advantage going into the other two group stage matches.
Iran Will Attempt to Annoy
Not much needs to be said about Iran, who won’t spend much time in Qatar. Iran may also not even make it to Qatar as there is pressure to kick them out of the tournament for political reasons.
Should Iran play, the time they will spend in Qatar will be spent trying to park the bus and nick results against three far superior squads. 1-0 and 1-1 scores are the calling card of this Iran squad, who did well in their late September friendlies by beating Uruguay 1-0 before drawing Senegal 1-1. Two encouraging results for the dark horse Iran team against fellow World Cup nations they will hope to build on in Qatar.
If Iran can defend their goal and find timely goals from either Mehdi Taremi or Sardar Azmoun, they could play spoiler to either Wales or the USA. Finishing second seems impossible, however, as the lack of quality depth in contrast to the USA and Wales will prove too much in the end.
Don’t Believe the Americans Will Win Group B
After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the Americans find themselves back in the tournament. The USMNT earned their place in Qatar with a third place finish in CONCACAF, finishing behind Mexico and shock first place finishers Canada.
Finishing third in qualifying already had some USA supporters anxious about their chances in Qatar and a poor run of performances in pre-tournament friendlies brought even more concerns. The Americans lost 2-Nil to Japan and drew Saudi Arabia Nil-Nil in their two late September friendlies, sounding the panic alarm for their vocal supporters.
Luckily for the Americans, they are the second most talented squad in Group B by a firm margin. Even if Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie misses the start of the tournament, the squad will still boast Brendan Aaronson and Tyler Adams of Leeds United along with Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and his former Borussia Dortmund teammate Gio Reyna. That is a lot of young and talented attacking talent at manager Gregg Berhalter’s disposal.
The big question for this USMNT crew is if Berhalter and the players will be able to execute a game plan to get results. Based on qualification and recent results, that’s a tough thing to believe in as they need to find a way to start scoring goals and grinding out results. Their talent should get them through to the knockouts over Wales, but if they fail to show up in their first match in Qatar and don’t get a result it could be an early exit for the Yanks.
Group B Is Coming Home
While it is expected the Americans and the Welsh will battle for second place, it is an assumption England will top Group B. After making a run all the way to the Euro final last summer, hopes and expectations are sky high in England for the Three Lions.
England will be led by striker Harry Kane and a loaded squad of players who now have big time international experience after last summer’s run. Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice and many others should all feature in a squad worthy of being referred to as a Golden Generation.
Whether this group or English players ends up lifting the World Cup for the first time since 1966 or not will be decided on the pitch in Qatar. However, the circumstances have never been better for an English team at the World Cup. Armed with the momentum and motivation of a very recent finalist run at the Euros, a talented young squad of players with another year of experience under their belt should have expectations of winning the whole thing.