Players that could trouble England in the 2022 World Cup group stage: Pulisic, Bale, Azmoun...

With the group stage draw wrapped up, England can now prepare for games against Iran, United States and one of Ukraine, Scotland or Wales. But who should the Three Lions be keeping an eye on?

Following last week's group stage draw, we now know who England will face in the World Cup when the tournament gets underway in Qatar in November.

Having been placed into Group B, Gareth Southgate's men will go up against Iran, the United States, and one of Scotland, Wales, or Ukraine, as they bid for global glory.

While the draw on paper favours England's chances of making the last 16, there's plenty of talent that can cause them trouble along the way.

In anticipation of the tournament, Planet Sport outline the key players from each of England's group opponents.


The Three Lions' first task in Qatar is a first ever World Cup meeting with Iran on the tournament's opening day, at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Ranked 21st in the world, the Iranians boast exciting talent in several key areas, and will be keen to kick their tournament off with an upset victory.

Sardar Azmoun, Iran

Iran's main man in their World Cup quest will be Bayer Leverkusen striker Sardar Azmoun. The 27-year-old moved to Germany from Zenit St Petersburg in January after scoring 62 goals in 104 games for the Russian outfit, and was named Player of the Season in 2020/21.

He holds the record for most goals scored by an Iranian in the Champions League, with six, and alongside his domestic exploits, he also has 40 goals in 62 games for his country.

In addition, another member of Iran's forward line who may have a part to play is Porto striker Mehdi Taremi. He moved to Portugal to join Rio Ave after spending the first nine years of his senior career with four different clubs in his homeland, before signing for Porto after one season.

He was nominated for the Puskas Award after scoring a bicycle kick against Chelsea in April 2021, and has totalled 41 goals in 87 games for the Dragoes.

Saman Ghoddos, Iran

Elsewhere on the pitch, a name who may be familiar to Premier League audiences is Brentford midfielder Saman Ghoddos, who initially played for Sweden, the country of his birth, before switching to Iran in 2017.

He came through the youth system of Malmo, and featured in Graham Potter's Ostersunds side, before joining the Bees in 2020. He has 73 career goals in 286 domestic games, and has been capped 31 times by Iran.

United States

Following the clash with Iran, a Black Friday fixture against the United States of America is up next.

The pair have met twice before on world football's biggest stage, with the Americans having upset the odds to win in Brazil in 1950, before an encounter in South Africa in 2010 ended in a draw. England will have to overcome some quality young players if they are to record a first World Cup win over the States.

Christian Pulisic, Northern Ireland vs USMNT, March 2021

USA's most obvious talent comes in the form of young attackers Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna, who ply their domestic trade for Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund respectively - although the former came through Dortmund's academy too before moving to London.

Despite having a combined age of just 42, they have already scored 25 goals in 60 appearances for their country between them.

In addition, Pulisic has netted 23 goals in 105 games for the Blues and is a Champions League, Club World Cup, and UEFA Super Cup winner. Meanwhile, Reyna - who is the son of former Wolfsburg, Rangers, Sunderland, and Manchester City midfielder Claudio Reyna was in fact born in England while his father was playing for the Black Cats. He has scored 10 goals in 76 games for Dortmund.

Weston McKennie in action for USA in a friednly at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Nov 2020

Behind that potent American attack is a midfield containing RB Leipzig's Tyler Adams and Juventus's Weston McKennie, but another key member of the Stars and Stripes' lineup is pacy Barcelona full-back Sergino Dest.

Born in the Netherlands, Dest joined the Blaugrana in 2020 from Ajax, and has since gone on to establish himself as a key part of the Spanish outfit's backline. He became the first American to score a professional goal for the club in a 4-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv in November 2020.


Gareth Bale, Wales vs Austria

Having already booked their spot in the qualification play-off final, there's a good chance England could be coming up against Wales in the World Cup group stage, meaning the Three Lions could have to deal with talisman Gareth Bale.

The Real Madrid forward regularly saves his best performances for his country, and after scoring twice against Austria, he has 38 goals in 102 international appearances. He is joined in Wales' ranks by Tottenham centre-back Ben Davies, Rangers midfielder Aaron Ramsey, and wingers Harry Wilson of Fulham and Daniel James of Leeds.


Andy Robertson

Scotland are currently set to play their play-off game against Ukraine in Glasgow in June, with the winner of that match facing Wales in the final.

Should the Scots get across the line and qualify, England will have their hands full trying to contain Liverpool full-back and Scotland captain Andy Robertson, whose pinpoint deliveries from the left are enought to trouble even the most well-organised defensive unit.

Fellow full-back Kieran Tierney of Arsenal will have a big part to play, as will Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay, QPR striker Lyndon Dykes, and revitalised Newcastle forward Ryan Fraser.


Oleksandr Zinchenko Ukraine Jun16

The third possible option is that Ukraine beat Scotland in June and then Wales in the final, booking their spot in Group B alongside England, Iran and the US.

Naturally, current events have their subsequent participation in doubt, but - bar Scottish and Welsh fans - there will be an army of neutrals willing them on.

Their most notable players will, much like Scotland, be a pair of Premier League full-backs in Manchester City's Oleksandar Zinchenko and Everton's Vitaliy Mykolenko. Elsewhere, Benfica striker Roman Yaremchuk will be influential, as will West Ham forward Andriy Yarmolenko and young Dynamo Kyiv defender Ilya Zabarni.

READ MORE: Chelsea's tricky run-in could see them miss out on the top four as bookies lose confidence in Blues

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