Thu, 01 Dec 2022

DOHA, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- The World Cup gets into full swing on Monday with two games from Group B, while the Netherlands faces Senegal in Group A. Here are some things to look out for?

1. Will the real England stand up?

The summer of 2021 saw Gareth Southgate's England side lose the final of the European Championship on penalties to Italy, but rather than continue their progress, the last 15 months have seen them lose their way and they arrive in Qatar without a win in their last six games and their last triumph back in March.

Unlike many sides, England has not played a warm-up game ahead of Monday's opener against Iran and although Southgate insists that tiredness was mainly to blame for recent results, the question remains: Which England will be seen? - that of the European Championship, or that of the last year?

2. The old guard for England or new blood?

One of the big questions over Southgate's team selection is whether or not he will keep faith in his 'old guard' of Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker in defense.

Maguire has been a lynchpin for Southgate, but a loss of form has seen him make just one Premier League start since August for Manchester United, while Walker hasn't played since a groin operation at the start of October.

Playing both defenders would be a huge risk for Southgate against an Iran side that is very capable of causing an upset, but will the coach abandon his trusted players to give a chance to the in-form Ben White, or could he opt for a flat back four with Eric Dier and John Stones in central defense?

3. Expect passion as Wales returns to World stage

Wales returns to the World Cup for the first time in 64 years when they face the USA in their Group B opener and Qatar will see one of the most passionate sets of fans in the tournament as the Welsh welcome their heroes back after beating Austria and Ukraine in the play-offs.

Welsh coach Rob Page will stick with a 3-4-3 formation, with Gareth Bale, who has less than an hour of football in his legs, leading the attack in what could be a contest of experience against youth.

USA coach Gregg Berhalter will probably play a 4-3-3 with players such as Yonas Mussa, Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna in his side and the Americans will look to test the Welsh with their pace and energy, although this is a side that looks to still be under construction and could be a better bet when the World Cup is played on their home soil in 2026.

4. Senegal needs to overcome Mane loss against the Netherlands

On paper the Netherlands looks to be favorites to win Group A ahead of Qatar, Ecuador and Tuesday's rival, Senegal. Usually, Senegal and Ecuador could be expected to battle it out for second place in the group, but with the hosts normally doing well in World Cups, qualification will be tougher this time.

Senegal suffered a huge loss when star player, Sadio Mane was forced to withdraw through injury earlier this week and Aliou Cisse's men need to ensure that loss does not affect their morale.

Although there is no Mane, players such as Boulaye Dia and the lightening fast Nicolas Jackson in attack and others such as Kalidou Koulibali, Youssouf Sabaly and Idrissa Guaye mean Senegal still has plenty of arguments in their favor if they can maintain focus.

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