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England to roar again, Dutch masters to deliver, but Qatar fans must have more faith

Qatar v Senegal

By common consent, Qatar were pretty awful in their opening match against Ecuador and they can only get better.

They may have only lost 2-0, but it could easily have been six or seven and there was a view among many pundits that Qatar might just be the worst team ever to have hosted a World Cup.

They couldn’t have been helped by the decision of many Qataris to get up and go home at half-time because things weren’t going their way.

That might be the way of things here when your car isn’t fixed properly, or your restaurant meal is disappointing, but if the walkouts happen against Senegal then it will be a sure sign of another looming defeat.

The Senegalese did a decent job in their opener against the Netherlands and might have been on for a draw if they hadn’t lacked concentration at a set piece late on. They eventually lost 2-0.

They are without their talisman and best player – Sadio Mane – who withdrew from the squad with a knee injury, but they still have talent in Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, 

Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye and Watford striker Ismaïla Sarr.

It’s hard to see anything but another defeat for Qatar, with the only question being how many goals Senegal can rack up to help with their battle against Ecuador to make in through to the knockout stages.

Netherlands v Ecuador

The Dutch fans always bring colour and spectacle to a World Cup, but for the first time in years, it looks as if they’ve brought a decent squad, too. 

They needed a late goal from PSV Eindhoven forward Cody Gakpo and an own goal to beat Senegal 2-0 and will fancy their chances of something similar against Ecuador, which would allow them to rest players when they finish the group stage against Qatar.

Gakpo can be a handful, while the Dutch have craft in midfield with Frenkie de Jong and a solid defence thanks to Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk.

In previous tournaments, there have been some Dutch Welsh connections – through the likes of former Swansea City players Michel Vorm and Jonathan de Guzman – but this World Cup came a bit too early for current Swans star Joel Piroe.

Their striking strength is clear through the likes of Vincent Janssen and Steven Bergwijn.

Ecuador looked lively at times in their opening victory over Qatar and although striker Enner Valencia may not be as sharp as in his days with West Ham, he can still finish as he showed.

If the Dutch can keep Valencia quiet, then they should be able to make it two wins from two in what certainly looks the easiest group from which to reach the last 16.

England v USA

It might hurt some to admit it, but the Three Lions got off to a roaring start with their 6-2 thrashing of Iran.

They looked powerful, confident and capable of drawing on huge strength in depth from the bench.

Yes, it was only Iran but most pundits reckon England have shown themselves to be genuine contenders as, for once, their entire threat doesn’t have to rely on Harry Kane.

With Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka  and Mason Munt proving England have varied weaponry, the USA could be in for a tough night.

Having said that, the USA were dominant against Wales in their opening 45 minutes and should have been much more than one goal ahead.

Wales fans will hope that England pile on the goals here, though, leaving the USA with a mountain to climb for that second qualification spot.

Kane has overcome an ankle injury and will be fit for selection and the Tottenham man has now scored 51 goals in 76 appearances – just two behind Wayne Rooney’s record of 53.

The USA will again pin their hopes on a youthful team, who boast quality in the form of Chelsea star Christian Pulisic.

But there must be question marks over their staying power against England after the way they faded against Wales.

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