England to seal passage to last 16 in tighter game
Though England were by far the favourites to win their World Cup Group B opener with Iran, few predicted there'd be eight goals in their game, with six of those going to the Three Lions. Being the only side in the pool to take maximum points from the first game, they know that a win against the United States on Friday night would definitely be sufficient to get through to the last 16 with a game to spare, and might also ensure top spot, depending on how the other game featuring Wales earlier in the day goes. For the USMNT's part, avoiding defeat in the Al Bayt Stadium is a must to avoid being totally reliant on others in the final match. Read our preview here:
Much criticised for not letting his attack-minded players off the leash often enough, Gareth Southgate could feel personally vindicated by the thrashing meted out to Team Melli. Equally as importantly, both Harry Kane and Harry Maguire had scans in the days between the first and second game after coming off, and they should feature from the outset. Maguire's threat from set pieces remains a crucial component of the strategy despite his ropey club form for Manchester United, whilst Kane's propensity to drop off the frontline and bring others into play helps his side bomb forwards in numbers. Along with two-goal Bukayo Saka, Jude Bellingham also shone in the curtain raiser and grabbed his first strike at senior national level. His jack of all trades attributes in midfield are disruptive to the opposition, and he'll need to be shackled.
Gregg Berhalter could be forgiven if he was a bit annoyed that his side only drew against Wales, having completely dominated the first half, only to let it slip because of a needless error to allow Gareth Bale to equalise from the penalty spot. Much like Canada against Belgium, everything they did was right until the final ball or finishing shot, with Christian Pulisic being particularly guilty in that regard. The Chelsea playmaker did lay on Timothy Weah's goal, however, and more risk taking in the third of the pitch furthest away from Matt Turner will need to be the order of the day in a game where they won't have anything like the lion's share of possession. Elsewhere, Brendan Aaronsen and Kellyn Acosta are set to come in for the injured pair of Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah.
If England play anywhere close to how they did against Iran, the USA will find them difficult to contend. However, they are susceptible in defence as the first game showed, so odds of 3.25 for a Three Lions win with both teams scoring with Parimatch seems like a good investment.