USA and England begin group play, Qatar lose


The World Cup kicked off in Qatar, after years of ready, and ESPN has you lined for the world’s greatest sporting occasion.

We’ve seen the opening ceremony, the pre-game speeches and the musical acts (sure, that was a member of BTS on the market!). We’ve seen the primary objective disallowed by VAR on the World Cup (properly executed, Enner Valencia, for being the reply to that trivia query) and we have seen the primary objectives allowed on the World Cup too (once more, congrats to Enner Valencia, whose two objectives gave Ecuador a win over host nation Qatar.)

Be positive to verify in with ESPN all through the match as we carry the newest from Qatar. Let’s get into it.

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The lead: USA! USA! USA!

Group B play begins brilliant and early on Monday morning as England tackle Iran at Khalifa International Stadium (8 a.m. ET), however that is the mere appetizer to a scrumptious primary course because the U.S. begin their match towards Gareth Bale and Wales at Al Rayyan Stadium (2 p.m. ET).

For the USMNT, it is crucial they get off to a scorching begin as England await of their second group sport. Wales supply loads of menace due to their talisman, Gareth Bale — who had just a few notable cameos throughout LAFC’s run to the 2022 MLS Cup this season — however the U.S. boast their full complement of stars, led by Christian Pulisic, and will likely be wanting to make up for what they missed out on at Russia 2018. (We won’t mention Couva. We will not point out Couva.)

Tyler Adams has been named captain, making him the youngest U.S. skipper at a World Cup since Harry Keough in 1950, and they have been lucky in avoiding important accidents throughout pre-tournament prep, one thing that may’t be mentioned about France (Karim Benzema was dominated out Saturday), Senegal (Sadio Mane was dominated out Thursday) or Belgium (striker Romelu Lukaku is already out for his or her first group sport). The U.S. additionally obtained excellent news within the type of defender Sergino Dest and midfielder Weston McKennie passing health checks to face Wales.

They additionally obtained a well timed message from dwelling, courtesy of U.S. Soccer, previous to their first match…

Ahead of the sport, Sam Borden met the person liable for feeding the staff in Doha, whereas Luis Miguel Echegaray spoke to the incredible ahead Tim Weah about his soccer roots and what this World Cup means to him. Coach Gregg Berhalter believes his staff “can beat anyone” in Qatar… he’ll be put to the take a look at by the Welsh on Monday, then. No strain, then!!

News and Notes

  • Host nation Qatar fell to a 2-0 defeat towards Ecuador within the World Cup’s opening sport, with weird scenes of dwelling followers leaving properly earlier than the ultimate whistle in droves to go away a largely pro-Ecuador surroundings for a lot of the second half. We lined the surrealism of day one in addition to the poor efficiency of the Qatar nationwide staff in what was primarily their first sport for the worldwide viewers. Meanwhile, Ecuador followers have been captured chanting “we want beer” as Qatar followers left early.

  • Is this an indication of overcrowding and logistical points to come back? The official World Cup fan zone at Al Bidda was so overwhelmed by followers making an attempt to get in that they closed entry. The venue has a reported capability of 40,000, however safety companies have been pressured to push followers again as they approached the varied entrance factors, stories Tom Hamilton.

  • The captains of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands is not going to put on the ‘OneLove’ anti-discrimination armband of their World Cup opening video games after affirmation that their captains could be given yellow playing cards in the event that they took half within the initiative. The announcement got here simply earlier than their World Cup campaigns have been scheduled to begin. The nationwide federations mentioned they have been ready to pay a high-quality for his or her captains to put on the ‘OneLove’ armband, however as soon as it turned clear their captains could be sanctioned, they needed to change plans. “FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” a joint assertion from the nations learn. “As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.”

  • Ahead of their sport with England, Iran defender Ehsan Hajsafi was the primary member of Team Melli to talk out in obvious help of anti-government protests again dwelling. “They should know that we are with them. And we support them. And we sympathise with them regarding the conditions. We have to accept the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy,” he added. “We are here, but it does not mean we should not be their voice or we should not respect them.”

  • Brazil are one of many front-runners to say the trophy in Qatar, however who will play in Thursday’s Group G sport vs. Serbia? Right now, it is all about misdirection. “We have no idea who the starting XI are: we are curious to know what the coach will decide and the competition is relentless to secure a spot,” mentioned defender Alex Sandro on Sunday.

The finest bits from immediately

Mark Ogden loved Qatar vs. Ecuador from a sports activities bar in Doha, whereas Tom Hamilton soaked up the sights and sounds from the overcrowded fan zone.



Mark Ogden shares his expertise of watching the opening sport of the World Cup from a bar in Doha.

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What’s on faucet tomorrow

– England vs. Iran (Group B, 8 a.m. ET): The Three Lions have been the final word “nearly-there” staff in recent times, ending fourth on the 2018 World Cup and then second on the European Championships. What can they accomplish this time round? If you’ve got heard their new anthem (properly, the newest launch of their acquainted chorus), then “football’s coming home for Christmas,” however they will want to begin out sturdy towards an Iran facet that can present no worry.

– Senegal vs. Netherlands (Group A, 11 a.m. ET): We presume these two would be the sides to advance to the last-16, however Ecuador’s win over Qatar implies that a decisive consequence for one facet right here might spell doom for the opposite. Cody Gakpo is more likely to take up the playmaker function within the Dutch assault, and with good motive — learn our profile of the following large switch goal right here — whereas Senegal try to determine methods to change injured talisman Mane, who was dominated out of the World Cup on Thursday.

– United States vs. Wales (Group B, 2 p.m. ET): What extra is there to say? The strain’s on Berhalter & Co. to fulfill the sky-high hype again dwelling with three factors towards a Wales facet that may be harder than they give the impression of being.

What else caught our eye

We had our first use of VAR on the World Cup as Enner Valencia’s third-minute objective — which might have been the fastest-ever objective in a World Cup opener — and Dale Johnson was available to elucidate why the decision was made.



Dale Johnson explains why Ecuador had a objective dominated out in complicated circumstances within the World Cup opener vs. Qatar.

Your finest bets (odds by way of Caesars Sportsbook)

Take a have a look at methods to truly wager on soccer matches as ESPN contributors Paul Carr, Dan Thomas and Dalen Cuff offers you key recommendations on odds, choices and futures.

Here’s what we’ve got for the primary two matchdays.


Netherlands (-160) vs. Senegal (+500), Draw +255

Cuff: Netherlands look significantly better than the Euro 2020 from simply over 15 months in the past. No Sadio Mane is a dagger for Senegal. I believe the Dutch are going to come back out flying, I’ll take over 2.5 objectives (+115).

Carr: I’m staying away from this one now that Mane is out, however that +500 value on Senegal positive is tempting for a squad that is nonetheless defense-first.

Thomas: I believe this may very well be a good affair. I’m undecided the place the objectives are going to come back from from both facet. I’d take the below on this one. Netherlands 1-0 Senegal.


England (-290) vs. Iran (+1000), Draw +340

Carr: Can I wager the below for each sport on this group? Maybe not, however I do like below 2.5 objectives right here (-150). Iran gave up 5 objectives in 14 qualifiers and solely allowed one objective every to Spain and Portugal 4 years in the past. England’s three group video games on the Euros final yr had a complete of two objectives, so till Gareth Southgate signifies that he’ll use all of England’s attacking expertise, I’m going with the below in England video games.

Cuff: I’ll simply maintain saying, I’m fading England. That mentioned, their defensive method towards an inferior opponent will result in a win, however with out a lot fashion and possibly solely a objective scored. There’s not a lot worth right here, and I do not like this sport, however I’d choose England to Win to Nil (-128).

Thomas: I’m not very hopeful that England can go far on this match. However, given the weak spot of the groups round them within the group, I believe they are going to qualify simply, beginning with a snug win towards Iran within the opener. Harry Kane to attain at any time (-110) appears to be like like a lay-up. England 3-0 Iran.

United States (+160) vs. Wales (+200), Draw +190

Carr: I hope this is not my American bias slipping in, however the U.S. merely has extra attacking choices than Wales, highlighted by a quartet of high quality wingers (Christian Pulisic, Brenden Aaronson, Giovanni Reyna, Timothy Weah). Because of that and Wales’ not-as-good-as-you-think protection that allowed 1.2 anticipated objectives per sport in qualifying, I’m going with U.S. Draw No Bet at -135.

Cuff: Bias warning! It has been eight years since watching the U.S. in a World Cup sport. I can see this being low scoring. The younger attacking expertise hasn’t come collectively of their previous couple of friendlies. Wales is just not a dynamic attacking staff, counting on brilliance from Gareth Bale or crosses looking for Kieffer Moore’s head. There’s no worth in below performs or each groups to not rating. The unbiased transfer might be Draw +190 and even Wales Draw No Bet +105. But no emotional hedge right here — USA to win (+160).

Thomas: I do know I’m not promoting it very properly. But I fancy a 0-0 draw right here.


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