We’re now getting into the thick of the World Cup action. With several teams now done with their first match of the tournament, the heat is on, and expectations are only getting higher.
Your next World Cup Match to Catch: England vs. USA.
With both teams having finished their first game—in two very different ways—what might this matchup look like?
England: Heavy on the attack
Despite the questions looming over the English’s three losses and three draws in their UEFA Nations League matches over the summer, the Three Lions seem to be in relatively good shape for the tournament. With a 6-2 win over Iran to open their World Cup campaign, several of their players put some doubts to rest.
Having scored a total of six goals, it looks as though their team’s offense will be their biggest strength in the tournament. In fact, all five goal-scorers against Iran were debut scorers. Bellingham, Saka, Sterling, Rashford, and Grealish all scored their first World Cup goals last Monday night (Manila time).
And with Marcus Rashford scoring as a sub (49 seconds after coming on, at that), their offense runs relatively deep.
Certainly, England’s aggression on the part of the youngsters of the squad is one of their main strengths as a team. It was thrilling to watch them score six goals, and surely, English fans all over the world had to resist the urge to claim, “Football is coming home!”
However, for it to come home, they will be facing tougher squads.
To be perfectly frank, Iran does not boast the most impressive team. Yet, they leaked not one, but two goals to Iran. Ultimately, their weak spot still seems to be on their defensive end.
Although defenders like Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw were impressively helpful on the attack, there are still gaps that need to be addressed in the back line to ensure a tighter effort on England’s part.
Against the USA, that is what they will need to do.
Unlike England, the USA finished their first match against Wales in a draw, 1-1. But despite walking away with only one point to add to their standing in their group, the Americans were competitive against the Welsh.
In the first half of the match, American midfielder Christian Pulisic was able to crack through Wales’ defense to find winger Tim Weah, who scored the first goal of the game. And they looked deserving of the lead.
Throughout the first 45 minutes, they kept up their reputation for their high-tempo aggression on the pitch—their passes were sharp, and for the most part, they looked to be the stronger side.
However, the USA had trouble holding control of the game. In the second half, Wales came back into the game looking refreshed and more alert. This time around, the Americans looked to be more challenged in finding a way to extend their lead.
In the end, they were unable to. Gareth Bale leveled the score off of a penalty, and the match ended in a draw, 1-1.
The problem with a draw is that it makes it all the more challenging to come to any solid conclusions about either team. But what we can be sure of is that while the US has the second-youngest team in the tournament, they are talented.
In spite of their inexperience as a team, each player’s individual skill set is hard to deny. And if given the chance, they will pounce.
Will England’s gaps become all the more apparent against a more skillful team, or will the Americans be able to hold their defenses against an aggressive England attack?
Another storyline to pay attention to between these two teams are their young players. As mentioned, both teams have very young players. England’s goal-scorers were all scoring for their first time in the World Cup, and the US are the youngest team in their group.
And as it seems, it is the youngsters who have stolen the spotlight in both their opening matches.
Bukayo Saka, Jude Bellingham, Jack Grealish, and Tim Weah all scored on their World Cup debuts. Christian Pulisic is arguably the biggest piece of the USA’s puzzle at only 24 years old.
This, coupled with all the players making their final appearances at this year’s World Cup, could be a showcase of the future of football. And as very young players scattered in clubs across the world, their performances here could make a difference in their careers as well.
England vs. USA is expected to be an exciting matchup, so mark your calendars and set your alarms. Kick-off is on November 26, 3:00 AM (Manila time).
Banner image from Harry Kane on Twitter.