England legend Wayne Rooney has made his predictions for the FIFA World Cup match between the U.S. men's national team and England. The leading goal-scorer for the Three Lions thinks his country will beat the U.S. 4-0 on Friday at 2 p.m. ET.
While a result like that seemed like a bit of an exaggeration a week ago, England's 6-2 win over Iran gave some practicality to Rooney's forecast.
"This is no disrespect, but the group should be pretty straight forward to get through," Rooney told USA TODAY Sports before the tournament.
The talented England squad, led by coach Gareth Southgate, have been slowly building back into global contenders. The team made it to the semifinals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, its best finish since 1990, and lost in the finals of the UEFA European Championship in 2021 to Germany on penalty kicks.
"There's been a growing expectation on the players, on the squad, on Gareth," Rooney said. "I think there's an excitement about the group of players."
The captain of England and the man two goals from tying Rooney's 53-goal record, Harry Kane leads a relatively young group. Kane injured his ankle against Iran, and while there were worries he would have to sit out against the U.S., he will start.
"Harry is fine. He has worked slightly separately from the group but all good for Friday night," Southgate said in a press conference Thursday. "He had a scan (on Wednesday) to make sure everything is fine."
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For Rooney, he said the key to confidently making it out of the group is to treat Iran, U.S. and Wales with respect.
"For all three games England plays in the group it's to be professional and not underestimate your opponents," Rooney said. "They are all in the World Cup for a reason and good teams. But I think England is a far greater team than any of the three other teams in the group."
And as for the USMNT's path to victory?
"They are a good team and they have good players. I think the key is they stick together as a team," Rooney said. "There's better teams in the tournament than what the U.S. are. But through hard work and being hard to beat - hard to play against - I believe that's the best way for the U.S. to go about this tournament."
On Friday, the U.S. and England will face off for the third time in the World Cup. The USMNT upset England in Brazil in 1950, scoring a goal on the way to a win. More recently, the two teams drew 1-1 in South Africa in 2010 - a game Rooney remembers vividly.
"We were complacent," Rooney said. "In 2010, it was a difficult tournament for us all. We didn't play well in any of the group games, so we got what we deserve."
Watch the full interview with Wayne Rooney on Sports Seriously:
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Wayne Rooney says England World Cup group should be 'straight forward'