World Cup 2022: Best bet for England-Iran

By Nigel Seeley  (VSiN.com) 

November 20, 2022 06:08 PM
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Best bet for England-Iran

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It is a very busy day on the first Monday of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with three games in action across Group A and Group B, but how can I have a “pick of the day” in any other match than England’s opener against Iran?

The Three Lions reached the semifinals four years ago in Russia only to be beaten by Croatia (my VSiN pick). They begin their World Cup journey on Monday in a very early kick-off for US bettors. 

They take on Iran who are playing their third World Cup in a row, which is quite an achievement. They are one of a few nations that I believe will be able to cope with the early heat in the desert, but that’s the only positive I can give Carlos Queiroz’ very negative team.

Following the World Cup, the Three Lions were losing finalists in the 2020 Euros to Italy in a crazy night at Wembley and have strong recent big tournament form. But England arrives in wretched form after an awful Nations League tournament, which ended in an embarrassing relegation to League B and conceding an unexpected amount of goals.

England rank No. 5 in the FIFA rankings and will be one of the major beneficiaries of a mid-season World Cup. The stamina-sapping EPL often means England players arrive exhausted at major finals, but not this time around. Gareth Southgate is certainly not as popular with fans as he was two and four years ago and can be extremely negative in approach, but I fully expect him to lead England to qualification as group winners. I believe they will begin that process by beating Iran -- and by beating them to nil.

In six World Cup final appearances, Iran has only won two games and I do not see them adding to that tally. And in six of their last seven matches, under 2.5 goals have cashed. I expect them to put 10 men behind the ball on Monday.

I think England can get their World Cup off to a winning start and I believe that the conditions play a huge part in this match. For that reason I have leans for under 2.5, England 1-0 and 2-0 on the correct score lines.

I can see England winning this off the bench. I think the Three Lions will be nervous, I expect them to play it cautious with a very negative starting 11, which will certainly consist of two holding midfielders, but I can see them bringing on the big names to win this match in the second half. I don’t expect many problems at the opposite end and I like England to win to nil at -120.

I do understand that the England team has been conceding goals recently in the Nations League campaign, but nobody across Europe took that tournament seriously with a World Cup two months away from the final fixture, so ignore that.

I would prefer to look at England’s form in Euro 2020, where they didn’t concede a goal in three matches in the group stage (a 1-0 win vs. Switzerland, 0-0 vs. Scotland and another 1-0 win vs. Czech Republic). I’m expecting more of the same from a England team that seems more content to not concede than go all-in for the win.

Pick: England to Win to Nil -120

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