World Cup Qatar 2022 day two: England and Wales take centre stage, dark horses Netherlands up against kings of Africa

Following on from the opening day of the World Cup on Sunday, where hosts Qatar were insipid in their 2-0 defeat by Ecuador, there are three matches to enjoy on Monday. We talk you through them ...

INSPIRING: Wales' Gareth Bale (left) and Aaron Ramsey during a training session at the Al Sadd Sports Club in Doha on Sunday, ahead of their World Cup opener against USA.
INSPIRING: Wales' Gareth Bale (left) and Aaron Ramsey during a training session at the Al Sadd Sports Club in Doha on Sunday, ahead of their World Cup opener against USA.

England v Iran, 1pm, Khalifa International Stadium, broadcast live on BBC One

Gareth Southgate’s England team are warm favourites to start this World Cup off with a victory against Iran. Much of the late build-up to this match has been dominated by news that if England captain Harry Kane takes to the field with the anti-discrimination OneLove armband, he will receive a yellow card. England, Wales and seven other European nations are now in discussions as to whether they will don it, with the original plan to promote diversity and inclusion. The teams they have been warned by Fifa officials that wearing the armband would be a breach of its rules and would there risk a "sporting sanction" for captains, essentially a booking. It is yet another political incident to blight this World Cup and will no doubt be talked about before, during and after this Group B match at the Khalifa International Stadium. In terms of matters on the pitch, it’s hard to envisage anything other than a straightforward win for England.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Senegal v Netherlands, 4pm, Al Thumama Stadium, broadcast live on ITV

This has the potential to be a cracking spectacle. Senegal had been many people’s outside tip to do well at the World Cup, following on from winning the Cup of Africa Nations earlier in the year. Their squad is peppered with high-quality players: goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, defender Kalilou Koulibaly and the exciting forward Ismaila Sarr. However, without star striker Sadio Mane – cruelly sidelined by a leg injury – it will be fascinating to see whether they carry the same threat. There is no doubt Mane is their talisman. The Dutch, under the wily Louis van Gaal, have been in good form recently and in Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo, have two forwards capable of scoring goals on this stage. Either team virtually put one foot in the knock-out stages if they win here, given they still have to face cannon-fodder Qatar in Group A. Netherlands are favoured to do so.

USA v Wales, 7pm, Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, broadcast live on ITV

This is the match where us Scots can think, ‘this could have been us’. After all, Scotland’s name was in the placeholder in Group B when the draw was made. Wales/Ukraine/Scotland, it read. In the end, it was Robert Page’s Dragons who booked their spot in Qatar at the expense of Ukraine, after they put Scotland to the sword at Hampden back in June. A team far greater than the sum of its parts, Wales will fancy their chances against the Americans, who were far from convincing in their qualification campaign. Gareth Bale seems like a man built for carrying his team to at least one famous win on the world stage and he could be the difference here, which would be ironic for the US given he has been ticking over in LA to stay in shape ahead of the tournament.