After a disappointing opening game between hosts Qatar and Ecuador that never really got going, today's fixtures promise a much more tempting offering.

All four Group B teams are in action, with Senegal and the Netherlands rounding off Group A’s fixtures.

There’s something to pique the interest in all three games with England and Iran getting things under way at 1pm.

England haven’t had the best build-up to the tournament, with grumblings of discontent following an awful Nations League campaign that saw them relegated from Group A and go six games without a win, including a humbling 4-0 defeat to Hungary.

The goodwill that Gareth Southgate built up during England’s run to the European Championships final has evaporated and anything less than a run to the semi-finals in Qatar could see the end of his reign.

Iran represent a tricky opening tie for Southgate's side and under manager Carlos Queiroz they’re a well-drilled defensive side that are happy to dig in, defend and frustrate opponents.

Queiroz’s side are an effective on the counter-attack, with Porto striker Mehdi Taremi leading the line and supported by Bayer Leverkusen’s Sardar Azmoun and Alireza Jahanbakhsh of Feyenood.

In terms of talent, this is Iran best team in decades and recent results against Uruguay and Senegal should serve as a warning to England.

Senegal take on the Netherlands in the 4pm kick-off, with the Africa Cup of Nations champions still reeling from the lose of Sadio Mane for the tournament.

Mane had initially been included in the Senegal squad despite carrying an injury, with an eye on the later games in the tournament. However, he has since had to undergo surgery to reattach a tendon to the head of his right fibula and is out long term.

Senegal head coach Aliou Cisse had already been planning for this game without Mane but admits that his absence from the tournament is a blow.

Sadio Mane is a huge loss for Senegal

"It is difficult to replace Sadio Mane. He is an extremely important player for our team and we are determined to do what we can without him," he said.

"We are going to have to work even harder as a team without him. When you talk about the morale, of course it affects you."

The Netherlands go into this tournament with none of the morale issues or inter-squad problems that have hindered them in the past and appear to be unified under manager Louis van Gaal, who is looking for one big hurrah to round off a hugely successful career.

Van Gaal is in his third stint as Netherlands boss and believes that this is the most talented squad he has worked with and he has his eyes firmly set on the World Cup trophy.

"I think that we could become world champion, but there are squads that, in my view, are at a higher level than my squad," he said.

"So I'm saying we can become a world champion. Whether we become world champion is another thing, but we can."

The Dutch should have too much for Senegal in their opening game and will be expecting to emerge with all three points, with less testing games against Qatar and Ecuador to come.

The final match of the day sees the USA take on Wales in a fixture that could make or break both side's qualification hopes.

Both the USA and Wales will privately be targeting second place in the group behind England and a win, or at least avoiding defeat in this clash, will be essential to those hopes.

Wales, who memorably made a run to the semi-finals in the 2016 European Championships, have not qualified for the World Cup since 1958 and while it’s hard to escape the feeling that their team of ageing stars has peaked, they still have a chance to make a big impact in Qatar.

Wales hopes rest on Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale will again be key to their hopes and he’s been wrapped up in cotton wool in recent months, with a cameo in Los Angeles FC's MLS Cup triumph coming as his only on-field minutes. That said, he did nod home a 128th-minute equaliser to set up LAFC's penalty shootout win.

Questions about his fitness remain and while he’s expected to start against the US, he’s unlikely to last 90 minutes in the Qatari heat.

The USA are back at the World Cup having missed the 2018 tournament in Russia and weren’t entirely convincing in qualification, just pipping Costa Rica to a place in the World Cup.

Manager Gregg Berhalter raised a few eyebrows with his squad selection with Jordan Pefok and Groningen's Ricardo Pepi left behind but for the most part, the manager has named a young and athletic squad that suits his high-tempo, high-intensity game.

That tactical approach from the USA makes for a testing game for Wales, who could struggle to keep pace with their opponents – particularly in the opening stages.

Follow every game from the 2022 FIFA World Cup via live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, or watch live on RTÉ Television and RTÉ Player

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