World Cup 2018 Preview: A Look At England’s Opponents
When the draw for Russia 2018 was made on December 1, it would have been impossible not to be happy as an England fan.
Gareth Southgate’s men, on paper, have been offered a kind draw with the Belgian’s the only real threat. Or so we think anyway.
With the tournament just a few months away, here’s our lowdown in England’s Group G opponents.
England are firm favourites to get their World Cup campaign off to a good start with Ladbrokes giving them odds of 3/10 to pick up the win.
Tunisia haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 2006 and have never gone beyond the Group Stage.
Managed by Henry Kasperczak throughout a successful qualification, he was sacked in April following a poor African Cup of Nations.
Nabil Maaloul now has the reins and he’ll be heavily reliant on goals from key man Youssef Msakni. The 27-year-old scorer a hat-trick in October against Guinea and if you’re going to back a BTTS or scorer bet in the England game, you can bet it’ll be him who gets the goal for the Tunisians.
They’ll unlikely qualify or do England any favours throughout the rest of the group, but if you felt like you wanted to waste a World Cup free bet you can back them to qualify at 7/2.
England: 1/ 4
Panama have never played in a World Cup, nor have they ever faced England so are a bit of an unknown quantity.
Ranked 56 in the world, they shouldn’t be any trouble for Harry Kane and co. And England are a clear 1/ 4 favourite for the tie.
The Central Americans qualified in rather controversial circumstances. A 2-1 win against Costa Rica saw them pip the USA to qualification, although their first goal appeared never to cross the line.
Hernan Dario Gomez’s men have made it though and they’ll be battling it out purely to do themselves justice and enjoy the tournament.
Few faces in the Panama team have ever had with only a handful playing in Europe. Statistically they do have some decent players. Blas Perez, who plays for Municipal in the Guatemalan top flight, has 43 goals in 113 games for his side. England will need to watch him, as well as Gabriel Gomez who has a huge 140 caps to his name.
Gabriel Torres is also marked as a bit of a star man, although really even an injury-laden England should have no trouble against them. Famous last words.
England’s game against Belgium will be a good indicator as to where the Three Lions are at and where they can go.
The Belgians are 12/1 to win the World Cup and 10/11 to finish top of Group G.
Southgate will want to have qualification wrapped up by the time they take on Roberto Martinez’s side, but they do still have a chance.
Both players and fans will be largely familiar with the Red Devils, with the majority playing in the Premier League and being teammates of the England squad.
Naturally, Kevin De Bruyne will be a key figure. He’s been phenomenal for Manchester City this season, at times unplayable, and will not only score goals but put plenty on a plate for Romelu Lukaku too, who’s 16/1 in the World Cup top scorer odds.
Wales beat them at Euro 2016 though, and they’ve been famously marked as underachievers. A side of superstars, not a team. If England can show the same sort of team spirit as the Welsh, combined with the talent of Sterling, Alli and Kane and we’d happily take those 17/10 odds.
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