Best Odds: 9/4
Bookmaker: Bet 365
A victory for England against Panama on Sunday will confirm their place in the last-16 of the World Cup. We make our predictions on the Group F clash at the Stadion Nizhny Novgorod.
After Harry Kane’s 91st minute winner against Tunisia on Monday, England will be hoping for another three points against Group F underdogs Panama. It is now 11 games undefeated for Gareth Southgate’s men, and victory is essential given they play Belgium in their third match. The Three Lions were impressive during the first 20 minutes against Tunisia but they did miss multiple chances to kill the game off. Their performance levels lowered slightly in the second half and Southgate will be keen on maintaining that initial pressure throughout the whole match. England fans won’t be getting too ahead of themselves, however. After failing to progress past the group stages in the past two major tournaments, and an inability to beat the likes of Costa Rica and Iceland, it could be a case of déjà vu on Sunday. Harry Kane could be the difference, and if England were to have a decent tournament, he could have his eyes set on the prestigious Golden Boot.
Raheem Stirling may drop to the bench with Marcus Rashford given an opportunity to shine.
After tactical notes were leaked during training, it also seems that Ruben Loftus-Cheek will start in place of the injured Dele Alli (hamstring).
World Cup debutants Panama have won just once in their past eight games, including the 3-0 defeat against Belgium on Monday. Hernan Dario Gomez’s men did well to keep the score level until just after half time, but an individual bit of quality from Dries Mertens opened up the floodgates and the two teams were a class apart in the end. Panama, again, won’t have too much of an attacking threat that will trouble England, but they will be organised in defence, and they will aim on frustrating their opposition. One worry will be if they do go behind to an early goal. Along with Monday’s defeat, they have also recently been thrashed 6-0 and 4-0 by Switzerland and USA respectively, showing a tendency to collapse at times. It does seem likely that Panama will exit the competition in their next match. However, their physicality and sheer determination may just cause an upset. After all, this is England we’re talking about.
Roman Torres picked up a facial injury against the Belgians but is expected to recover in time to face England.
With that in mind, Hernan Dario Gomez is expected to field the same line-up.
Key Factors to Consider
- England are unbeaten in their last four World Cup games against CONCACAF nations (W2 D2)
- CONCACAF teams have only won one of their last 10 World Cup meetings against European sides
- England haven’t won consecutive matches at the World Cup since the opening two games of the tournament in 2006
- Striker Harry Kane has scored in each of this last four appearances for the Three Lions
- In the opening match against Tunisia, Kane became the first England player to score a brace in a World Cup match since Gary Linekar in 1986 (3)
Panama will aim on frustrating England for the majority of the game and will be delighted with a point. Most of the games at this World Cup have come alive after half time and we’re predicting this will be the same. Back a draw at half time with England to win the game.
Best Odds: 9/4
Bookmaker: Bet 365
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