England World Cup Starting XI Odds: Who Will Start vs Iran?
England manager Gareth Southgate ended weeks of intense speculation when he named his 26-man World Cup squad on Thursday, November 10.
UK betting sites are now taking bets on which players will be chosen for the Three Lions’ opening fixture against Iran.
We have analysed this intriguing market and identified a few in-form stars that could offer value for punters.
Will Southgate Keep Faith In Maguire?
The form of Manchester United captain Harry Maguire is certain to dominate the conversation as England prepare for their World Cup opener.
Maguire has been a mainstay in the England team during Southgate’s tenure, but he has been left on the periphery for his club this season.
United boss Erik ten Hag dropped him after a disappointing 4-0 defeat to Brentford in August, and the team’s form improved immediately.
Raphaël Varane and Lisandro Martínez are now the first-choice central defenders for the Red Devils, leaving Southgate with a selection dilemma.
John Stones has been playing well for Man City, so he is a guaranteed starter, but there is no obvious candidate to replace Maguire alongside him.
UK bookmakers expect Southgate to go with a back-three featuring Stones, Maguire and Tottenham’s Eric Dier, with Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw starting as full-backs.
Maguire is priced at just 4/9 with football betting sites to start against Iran, while Dier is also odds-on at 8/15.
Southgate appears loyal to the Man Utd defender, and he is likely to start ahead of Conor Coady.
Manchester United and England legend Teddy Sheringham is unconcerned by Maguire's club form and lack of game-time though and expects the centre-half to rediscover his best form under Southgate.
"I think Maguire will start because he’s never really let Gareth Southgate down," Sheringham told Gambling.com.
"He’s had a bit of a rough time over the past couple of years at Manchester United, but when he links up with the England squad, Gareth will work closely with the defence and make sure everyone knows what their proprieties are as defenders."
Is There Room For Kyle Walker In The Starting XI?
We do not yet know what formation Southgate will choose for England’s World Cup opener against Iran.
In big games, he tends to favour a back-three, with wing-backs, two holding midfielders and two players supporting Harry Kane in attack.
However, Iran are not exactly an elite team, and there is a case for choosing a more ambitious 4-2-3-1 formation. If that is the case, either Maguire or Dier would probably miss out.
It would also hinder Walker’s chances of making the starting XI for England’s first game of the tournament.
He is normally one of the first names on the team sheet, as he can play on the right of a back-three or as a more conventional right-back in a four-man defence.
However, Trippier has been in fine form this season, and he is priced at just 1/50 on betting apps to start for England against Iran.
If Southgate opts for a back-three, Walker may get the nod ahead of Maguire or Dier, provided he recovers from injury in time.
However, if England play with a standard back-four, Walker’s chances of starting look slim, and he is 6/5 to be named in the team.
"Assuming Walker won't be fit, I think Trippier has to start in a back four, he’s been absolutely fantastic for Newcastle since he’s been there," said Sheringham,
"He’s made a real difference and that’s difficult to do as a full-back, but his immense form is one of the main reasons they’re doing so well."
Can Kalvin Phillips Recover In Time To Regain His Place In Midfield?
Phillips and Declan Rice formed a very strong midfield partnership as England finished runners-up at the Euros last year.
The Manchester City star has been sidelined since September with a shoulder injury, which plunged his chances of securing a World Cup place into jeopardy.
However, he made his eagerly anticipated return to action by coming on as a substitute for City against Chelsea recently, and he was then named in Southgate’s squad the following day.
If he can prove his fitness, he may well regain his place in the middle of the park.
It's a decision that will cause punters to look at the betting on who will be the next England manager if it backfires on Southgate.
As things currently stand, teenage superstar Jude Bellingham is far more likely to slot in alongside Rice for the Iran game.
He has been on fire for Borussia Dortmund this season, and he is just 1/12 to be named in Southgate’s first starting XI of the tournament.
Phillips is a 4/1 outsider, and it would make sense to preserve him for potentially tougher clashes further down the line, but there is still a chance that he could be a surprise inclusion.
Will Southgate Find Room For Mason Mount?
Twelve players are odds-on with Paddy Power to start for England against Iran: Jordan Pickford (1/50), Kieran Trippier (1/50), Harry Kane (1/50), Declan Rice (1/33), Jude Bellingham (1/12), Luke Shaw (2/9), John Stones (2/9), Raheem Sterling (2/9), Phil Foden (4/9), Harry Maguire (4/9), Eric Dier (8/15) and Mason Mount (4/7).
Only 11 of them can take to the field, so at least one will have to miss out.
Once again, much will depend on whether Southgate opts for a 3-4-3, with Trippier and Shaw as wing-backs, or a 4-2-3-1, with the pair as conventional full-backs.
If it is the latter, Dier could miss out. He is adept at playing in a three-man defence, but he may not be as comfortable in a flat back-four.
However, if Southgate goes for a 3-4-3 formation, Mount may be the man to miss out. In a 4-2-3-1, he can operate effectively at the sharp end of a midfield triangle, weaving his magic behind Kane.
In a 3-4-3, he would need to be shunted out to the wing, where there is intense competition for places.
Even in the 4-2-3-1 option, he is under pressure from James Maddison (10/1), who has delivered a string of virtuoso performances in recent weeks, so odds of 4/7 on Mount do not look particularly appealing.
Maddison was a contentious inclusion in the squad having only made one substitute appearance for England - which came back in 2019 - but his scintillating club form for Leicester saw him get the call-up.
Indeed, Sheringham believes he should figure in Southgate's team right from the off as one of several creative players in the England camp.
"I think we need to go for the throat early on," he said.
"Iran won’t try to beat us, so the more flair players we can get into the starting line-up the better. I would play Foden on the right, Grealish on the left, Maddison in front of a midfield two and Kane up front.
"You’ve got to have players who will open up defences, because Iran will be playing for 0-0 and they’ll be delighted if they can get as far as 80 minutes and it’s still scoreless.
"But if we get the right players to open up their defence from the first minute, then I think we’ll get our noses in front and if we can get the three points that will give us the freedom to experiment in the second and third games."
Who Will Support Harry Kane In Attack?
Kane is a guaranteed starter, as he is England’s captain and their main goal threat. He will either be supported by two forwards in a 3-4-3 formation, or by three players in a more attacking 4-2-3-1 approach.
There has been a clamour for Southgate to exclude Sterling, who has struggled for form since moving to Chelsea.
Check Out The Best World Cup Betting Offers
However, the former Man City and Liverpool forward has always been reliable for England, and punters see him as key to the chances the Three Lions have of winning.
There may be room for Mount and Foden, or it could become a straight fight between them for a place in the team if Southgate goes for a 3-4-3, with Dier at the back.
Yet there is also another compelling option. Bukayo Saka has been superb for Premier League leaders Arsenal this season, chipping in with five goals and six assists in 20 games across all competitions.
He has more goal involvements than Foden and Mount, and he is highly versatile, so odds of Evens with Betfair on Saka breaking into the starting XI might tempt a few punters.
Marcus Rashford is a 10/3 outsider, but he is in with a shot at making the team, while Jack Grealish - the most expensive player in Premier League history - is a 6/1 outsider.
"I don’t think Rashford should be starting," said Sheringham. "I think he gives us something different to the other forwards in the squad, but I’m not even sure what his best position is, whether he’s a winger, a number 10 or a number nine.
"He’s got great pace and can score a goal, but fitting him into a well organised team is difficult. I wouldn’t really know where to put him.
"There’s other players that you can build you team around like Grealish, Foden or Saka, who can each use their flair off the back of the team ethic. With Rashford, I’m not sure you get that."
Given this is arguably the strongest England squad ever assembled, there was always going to be seriously talented players missing out on the final 26-man panel.
Players such as Ivan Toney, Tammy Abraham and James Ward-Prowse were all left behind having been on the fringes of the England set-up in the lead up to Qatar.
However, all it takes is an unfortunate injury in pre-tournament training for an overlooked star to get a late call to action.
That said, Sheringham can barely fault Southgate's squad, although there's one passenger he's disappointed not to see on the plane.
"I like his squad, I think he’s picked pretty much everyone we expected," said Sheringham.
"With 26 picks now it’s hard to leave anyone out, but the one decision I’m not sure about was leaving Ivan Toney out.
"If there so happens to be a problem with Harry Kane, I’d have liked Toney to step in because he really believes in himself, he knows he’s a good player and he has an air of confidence about him that makes him such a good number nine.
"I really like the way he goes about his business, so I would have taken him myself.
"It’s a tough one for Tammy Abraham too. I know he’s out of the limelight by being in Serie A but he’s done well for Roma and scored plenty of goals.
"I would have thought Ivan Toney would be ahead of him in the pecking order should Harry Kane get injured."
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