England: The shock is over
England and the Major Leagues – It’s been a complicated relationship since 1966 when the World Cup was brought to the motherland of football by the legendary ‘Wembley Goal’. Now the English language is on the rise. At Russia 2018, they achieved their best World Cup result since 1990 by reaching the semi-finals despite losing to Croatia on penalties and losing a third-place match to Belgium – and in the way they overcame a decades-old trauma. With his victory in the round of 16 against Colombia he won on penalties for the first time in a major tournament. Last year in the European Championship final at Wembley against Italy, there was another bitter lottery defeat from a penalty kick. The fact that Gareth Southgate’s team ever got there is indicative of the evolution the Three Lions have experienced under the age of 52. This does not have to end in Qatar.
England in numbers. Population: 56 million Capital: London. – FIFA Ranking: 5. – Previous World Cup participations (15): 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018. – Best Cup result the scientist. : Winner 1966. – Top scorer in World Cup qualifiers: Harry Kane (12 goals). Recording player: Peter Shelton (125 games). Record scorer: Wayne Rooney (53 goals). The most famous players: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho. Coach: Gareth Southgate (England, since 2016).
Iran: The Returned Queiroz Feeds Hope
Iran confidently secured their sixth appearance at the World Cup. For the third year in a row, the three-time Asian Cup winners will be represented in the final tournament. This shows that in recent years, a surprising foreign player has become one of the strongest teams in the AFC. The creator of this success was Portuguese Carlos Queiroz, who took care of the team between 2011 and 2019 without interruption. This was followed by Belgian Mark Wilmots and Croatian Dragan Skocic. The latter managed to qualify for the tournament in Qatar but was forced to vacate his position after disagreements with the First Division – paving the way for Queiroz’s return. The 69-year-old has been back in office since September and, despite the political turmoil, is fueling hopes in Iran that a sixth attempt will see them pass the preliminary round for the first time.
Iran in numbers. Population: 85 million Capital: Tehran. FIFA Ranking: 20. – Previous World Cup participations (5): 1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018. – Best World Cup result: preliminary round. World Cup qualifier top scorer: Sardar Azmoun (10 goals). Recording player: Jawad Nekounam (151 matches). – Record scorer: Ali Daei (109 goals). The most famous players: Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Tarmi. Coach: Carlos Queiroz (Por / since 2022).
USA: back after makeover
The United States qualified for the World Cup seven times in a row until 2014. In 2002, the Bruce Arena team advanced to the quarter-finals. But the series broke out in 2018, and the Americans were not in Russia. Arena, who took over again after the departure of Jürgen Klinsmann, resigned and thus made it possible to rebuild the American team. Under the leadership of Greg Berhalter, the United States secured their eleventh appearance in the World Cup qualifiers behind Canada and Mexico. Only thanks to a better goal difference than Costa Rica did the American boys survive the playoffs. Berhalter has assembled a talented young team in Qatar who believes they have a chance to overtake Iran and Wales. Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic is the star of the team, but the next generation of talent is already accumulating in Dutch-born Sergino Dest, on loan from Barcelona to Milan, Giovanni Reina of Dortmund and Yunus Moussa of Valencia.
The United States in numbers. Population: 332 million. – Capital: Washington, DC – FIFA standings: 16. – World Cup participations so far (10): 1930, 1934, 1950, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014. – Best World Cup result: Half Final / 3. (1930). Top scorer in World Cup qualifiers: Christian Pulisic (5 goals). Recording player: Kobe Jones (164 games). Scorers: Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan (57 goals each). The most famous players: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKinney, Serginio Dest, Giovanni Reina. Coach: Greg Berhalter (USA / since 2018).
Wells: The Spell Awakens Dreams
Wells is back on the world stage. It was the first and only participation so far in the World Cup 64 years ago. For their second World Cup appearance, the Welshman had to take a turn during the play-off games having finished second in their group behind Belgium. The victories against Austria and Ukraine also removed the last hurdles on the road to Qatar, with the Welshman counting on the most important player at this crucial stage. Gareth Bale, 33, who joined Los Angeles FC in the North American MLS this season, scored both goals against Austria for a 2-1 win and against Ukraine, his free kick resulted in a decisive own goal. Bell is Wales’ talisman for success. On the island, they dream of reaching the quarter-finals in Qatar, as they did in Sweden in 1958.
Wales by the numbers. Population: 3.1 million Capital: Cardiff. – FIFA ranking: 19. – Previous participation in World Cup finals (1): 1958. – Best World Cup result: Quarter-finals (1958). World Cup qualifier top scorer: Gareth Bale (5 goals). Recording player: Chris Gunther (109 games). Record scorer: Gareth Bale (40 goals). The most famous players: Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Daniel James. Coach: Robert Page (WAL, since 2020).
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