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World Cup 2022 live updates: Opening ceremony highlights, latest line-up news and more

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Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz said England are the strongest since 1966, hailing the ability of Gareth Southgate’s side to go deep in tournaments “by conceding no goals”.

England will be hoping to start their World Cup campaign with a win over Iran, given that Southgate’s side reached the semi-finals in 2018 before reaching the Euro 2020 final, which they lost to Italy on penalties. They also passed qualifying without issue, scoring 39 times and conceding just three chances.

But Iran also made light work of qualifying for Qatar, winning eight of 10 games in the third round of Asian qualifying and conceding just four goals. They are ranked 20th in the world by FIFA, just one place below Wales and 15 below England.

Queiroz, however, has spoken about England’s chances of enjoying a strong run in Qatar before the two teams meet on Monday in what he describes as a “dream” game.

“It’s the most important game of our lives, first of all because it’s the next one, and the next game is always the most important for the lives of the coaches and players,” he said before the game on Sunday. “But it’s also a unique opportunity, even for me, and I have 200-something caps.

“But it’s the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play against the England team. And for most of our players playing against England is like magic, a unique opportunity, a gift, because on the international calendar playing against England or Germany is almost impossible.

“For them, for me, it is a dream of life.”

(Photo: Getty Images)

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