England will qualify for the knockout stages if they win this clash. But a defeat for the US could land them in trouble.
Who: England vs USA, Group B
Where: Al Bayt Stadium
When: Friday, November 25 at 10:00 p.m. (19:00 GMT)
Ranking: England (5), United States (16)
Buoyed by their brilliant 6-2 victory over Iran, England will go into Friday’s game against USA with confidence, knowing that another win will secure them a place in the knockout stage of the World Cup.
Gareth Southgate’s side will look to build on Monday’s promising performance and have been bolstered by the news that captain and star striker Harry Kane is expected to be back in action after the 29-year-old recovered from an ankle injury that he contracted at the Three Lions’ opening game.
Expect Kane to be joined by Bukayo Saka, who scored twice in the win against Iran, and 19-year-old midfielder Jude Bellingham, who scored his first international goal in England’s opening game.
For their part, the USA will be looking for a better performance after a promising start against Wales on Monday with a disappointing 1-1 draw Gareth Bale’s penalty in the second half Cancellation of Timothy Weah’s opener in the 36th minute.
“Captain America” Christian Pulisic, who plies his trade for Chelsea in the English Premier League, will once again lead the team from the front. Several other members of the squad are also Premier League regulars.
But familiarity counts for nothing on either side of the Atlantic and within the confines of Al Bayt Stadium, where the so-called ‘special relationship’ between the two countries is cut short for 90 minutes as they battle for supremacy on the pitch.
England clear favourite
England are expected to come out on top as their opening win marks a dramatic return to form after losing six games without a win before the tournament.
Southgate’s decision to employ a more attacking 4-3-3 formation – a departure from his previously favored 3-5-2 system – paid off, with the midfield trio of Bellingham, Declan Rice and Mason Mount providing dynamism and creativity in abundance.
Other positive results for the side saw winger Raheem Sterling, who was under pressure to progress to the World Cup after a string of poor performances for Chelsea, capping a lively performance with a goal in the 46th minute. Substitutes Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford also found the net late.
After the game, however, alarm bells went off for both Southgate and several of his players over fundamental mistakes in defense that allowed Iran to beat goalkeeper Jordan Pickford twice.
They know that the US has the quality to capitalize on a repeat of those mistakes and is likely to resist more from behind than the Iranians could muster.
But the pressure is mostly on US coach Gregg Berhalter’s players. A defeat on Friday will mean they will need to win their last game – against Iran – to have any chance of progressing through the group stage.