As the greatest football spectacle in the world gets started, not only are the national teams set to do battle – the TV pundits are too

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dmg media (UK)

Seven-day Tv Guide & Puzzles

WORLD CUP 2022 Let the titans of football do battle as they face off yet again in the pressure cauldron of the World Cup. Yes, the established veterans of the BBC, led by Gary Lineker (inset, centre), will be hoping they’ve got the best broadcasting team and the plum fixtures – but could Ian Wright and his upstarts over on ITV pull ahead to claim the ratings and fans’ hearts? Both sides will have their following, as the BBC’s Gabby Logan (inset, right) joins forces with the continental sophistication of Jürgen Klinsmann, along with the formidable Alex Scott and Alan Shearer. Plain-speaking Roy Keane, on ITV, is always a force to reckon with, along with Gary Neville (inset, far right) and Graeme Souness, but look out for Nadia Nadim, an Afghan refugee turned Danish football international and now an insightful pundit. Already it’s a tournament unlike any we’ve seen before – taking place for the first time in the Middle East, in Qatar, and shattering tradition by starting in November for the 32 nations assembled from across the globe. But England fans will be hoping that manager Gareth Southgate’s squad, captained by Harry Kane, can earn their own place in the annals of footballing history to outdo even the glory of 1966 by being crowned champions for the first time ever abroad, come the final on December 18. Meanwhile, Wales, with Gareth Bale (above, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kane) – lining up alongside USA and Iran in England’s Group B – are in their first finals since 1958 and determined to do more than just make up the numbers. The action begins with the opening game in MOTD Live: Qatar v Ecuador (Sunday, BBC1, 3pm). Expect the watching nation to come to a halt as Southgate’s team run out for the first time in England v Iran (Monday, BBC1, 12pm), just hours before Fifa World Cup 2022: USA v Wales (Monday, ITV1, 6.05pm). Group B is back in action on Friday, first with Wales v Iran (Friday, BBC1, 9.15am), before a potentially crucial match, England v USA (Friday, ITV1, 6.05pm). Who knows what the later stages will bring, but note that ITV has the first and second pick of the second-round matches, and first pick in the quarter-finals. If those matches feature Southgate’s team, let’s hope ITV can shake off its ‘curse’, which has seen England win only four of the 24 head-to-head tournament matches screened by the network since 1998, against 15 out of 22 on the BBC. It seems it’s not just England who are praying to shake off the ghosts of the past...