England will qualify for the World Cup knockout stages if they defeat the USA on Friday.
Ahead of Group B’s clash in Al Khor, the PA news agency takes a look at five of the top talking points.
After six games without a win in Qatar, Monday’s thrilling 6-2 win against Iran was England’s best-ever result at the start of a major tournament and equaled their highest-scoring World Cup game. Gareth Southgate’s men are now looking for more of a match and are aiming to win their opening two group games like 2018, meaning they will seal a place in the last 16 before clashing with Wales.
England’s hearts sank when Harry Kane’s right footed effort against Iran came down early in the second half after a poor tackle. The fact that he continued into the 75th minute and Southgate downplayed the problem allayed concerns, only for it to surface the next day he needed a scan. There was a collective sigh of relief for England when Kane was given the green light to train and now the 2018 Golden Boot winner will be looking to open his account at this World Cup after Southgate has all but confirmed he will start .
Kane’s availability is a huge boost for Southgate, who in the midst of a hectic season is balancing the rigors of tournament football with the need to qualify from the group. Harry Maguire is fit after his unwell match against Iran and will be capped for his 50th cap, while Kyle Walker is hoping for his first cap following groin surgery in October. Southgate was angered by sloppy aspects of England’s opener and will have to make decisions if he tries to reach the new level he demanded on Monday.
England will look to finally beat the United States on the global stage at the third try. At the 2010 World Cup, a mistake by Robert Green saw the clash end 1-1, but that was nothing compared to 1950, when the American amateurs celebrated an impressive 1-0 win in Brazil. Gregg Berhalter’s young side boast some talented players, with the Premier League being home to key players such as Christian Pulisic, Brenden Aaronson and captain Tyler Adams. Following a 1-1 draw with Wales on Monday, the USA are keen to secure another memorable result against England.
Southgate expressed concern after the opening game against Iran that the fact that his side were used as role models at a pre-World Cup refereeing meeting could cloud his side’s judgment when awarding penalties. England were denied a clear penalty when Maguire was tackled early on by Rouzbeh Cheshmi. The VAR decided not to intervene but later drew the referee’s attention to a tug on a shirt in the England box which resulted in Iran striker Mehdi Taremi scoring a last-gasp penalty, while a similar offense resulted in a penalty in the surprise Loss to Argentina led Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. Attention will be on referee Jesus Valenzuela and fellow Venezuelan Juan Soto in the VAR dressing room.