The theoretically toughest and hence trickiest to predict of the eight 2022 World Cup groups is group B, which includes England, the United States, Wales, and Iran.
Of all the Qatar 2022 groups, it has the lowest average FIFA world ranking, with England (ranked fifth), the United States (16th), Wales (19th), and Iran (20th) adding up to a position of just 15.
Because of the greater geographical spread and the expansion to a 48-team World Cup starting in 2026, it’s actually likely to be harder than any World Cup group we’ll see again.
Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the team is in an exciting position after the first two games. While the USMNT and Wales played to a fun 1-1 draw, England thrashed an uninspired Iran 6-2.
What happened on the first day?
With a comprehensive and convincing 6-2 victory over Iran in the opening match of the second day of the 2022 World Cup, England got their campaign off to a great start.
After Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling added goals to Jude Bellingham’s first-half goal, England led 3-0 at halftime.
After the break, there were even more goals, including Saka’s second and a quick Mehdi Taremi score to make it 4-1.
Within minutes of entering the game, substitute Marcus Rashford made it 5-1. Jack Grealish then completed a smooth play in the 90th minute to seal England’s victory.
Though the drama was still not done, Iran’s final penalty brought the story to a close.
Later, in Wales’ opening World Cup match against the USMNT, Gareth Bale, who is currently playing for Los Angeles FC in the MLS, scored a late penalty to negate Tim Weah’s first-half goal.
At the Al Rayyan Stadium, Christian Pulisic wonderfully set up Weah to give Gregg Berhalter’s team the lead, but Bale won a penalty with less than 10 minutes left after a careless foul by USMNT center-back Walker Zimmerman.
Who then needs what, exactly?
From the standpoint of the FIFA world rankings, Monday’s outcomes were predictable. Iran was defeated by England, the group’s strongest squad. The two sides in the middle eventually to a draw.
According to World Cup history, in order for the United States and Wales to advance to the knockout round, they must each defeat at least one of England and Iran.
Of fact, a team with fewer than four points might still theoretically go to the knockout rounds. However, a review of every World Cup since 1994, when the concept of three points for a victory was first adopted, reveals that teams often need at least four points to advance.
With four points—a win, a tie, and a loss—Argentina and Japan advanced to the knockout round of the most recent World Cup in Russia. The other six clubs that finished second in their groups and advanced to the round of 16 earned either five or six points.
Who has the best chance of succeeding?
Using a unique football ranking methodology, Nielsen’s Gracenote predicted every World Cup match before the event.
Through thorough simulations, they were able to predict the probabilities of various outcomes for each potential match and determine the likelihood that each side would advance to a different round of the competition.
For instance, this algorithm correctly predicted that England will defeat Iran.
It forecasts that on the final day, England will defeat Wales and the USA will triumph against Iran.
In the event that these forecasts come true, England would win group B with a perfect nine points, while the USMNT would advance to the knockout stage as the group’s runner-up.
Wales would come in last, with Iran taking third.