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Who are England’s World Cup 2022 opponents? The lowdown on USA, Iran and potential play-off winners

World Cup 2022 England opponents
(Image credit: Future)

The 2022 World Cup draw has been made, with England facing Iran and the USA in the group stage of the tournament.

The third opponents, however, are yet to be decided. In June, Ukraine will play Scotland, with a play-off against Wales waiting for the winner. One of the three nations will be in Group B in Qatar.

So should England be worried about their opponents?

USA

USA

(Image credit: Getty)

One of the last countries to have qualified for the 2022 World Cup, USA are currently at the start of a cycle, with young stars being bedded into the team. They didn't breeze through qualification – and though they won the last edition of the Gold Cup, this is widely considered as an inexperienced crop.

There are still top players in the squad though capable of hurting England. Premier League fans will be most aware of Chelsea star Christian Pulisic, the talisman of the side, while Gio Reyna, Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie all play for top European sides. Elsewhere, there are bright young stars such as Yunus Musah and Brendan Aaronsen who are looking to make a name for themselves on the global stage.

2022 will come too soon for this group, with the US targetting home soil in 2026 as the tournament for them to really make an impact. Worse US sides have got results against big nations in the past though – yes, including England in 2010 – so they're not to be underestimated.

Iran

Iran

(Image credit: Getty)

Iran made it all the way to the semi-finals of the last Asian Cup, where they were beaten by Japan. A year earlier in 2018, the Middle Eastern nation beat Morocco and drew with Portugal at the World Cup.

There's a chance, too, that the Iranians will feel more comfortable since they're closer to home – the Persian Gulf separates the countries – and while they're not a world-beating nation, English fans will recognise Alireza Jahanbakhsh from his Brighton days. 

Besides Jahanbakhsh, however, Iran aren't too much of a threat. Most of the squad play in Iran and if Team Melli don't finish bottom of their group, they'll have had a decent tournament. 

Wales, Scotland or Ukraine

Ahh, the UEFA play-off winners. We should've expected this, shouldn't we? 

England will probably be hoping for a match against Ukraine, in truth, since the Three Lions smashed them for four in Rome last summer at the Euros. The legendary Andriy Shevchenko has since left the helm as coach and despite good players like Andriy Yarmolenko and Oleksandr Zinchenko, England will fancy their chances. 

On the other hand, Ukraine have proven themselves to be stronger than the sum of their parts in the past, reaching a quarter-final at the Euros – and might well head into the tournament determined to give a good showing in light of the terrible invasion that's occurred this year. 

Wales vs Scotland

(Image credit: Getty)

Both Wales and Scotland could prove themselves to be the biggest obstacle to England – and perhaps there's been a changing of the guard in recent times between the two.

This is the last chance for arguably Wales' greatest-ever side to give their fans a World Cup to remember and as has been proven time again since 2016, the Dragons are capable of performing no matter how their players are performing at club level. A disappointing Euros, however, may be a sign of the side dwindling: while Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale are approaching their twilights, this might be a bridge too far for the likes of Brennan Johnson, Ethan Ampadu and Neco Williams. 

Scotland, meanwhile, are on the ascendency, having built on a difficult Euro 2020 strongly to put themselves in a great position for consecutive tournaments. The system is difficult to figure out for opponents, with overlapping left-backs and Scott McTominay playing deeper – and as England found at Wembley last summer, they're hard to break down.

Whoever makes it through from the play-off, it feels as if the European nation might be the biggest threat for England. 

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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. Over his time on the brand, he has interviewed the likes of Aaron Ramsdale and Jack Wilshere, written pieces ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career, and has been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals, working for FFT