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World Cup Group G: Can England's two Harries leave Panama saying they missed it by isthmus?

Sunday 24th June 2018

The opening Group G games went as anticipated. Belgium saw off Panama 3-0. England followed with a 2-1 victory over Tunisia. Both powerhouses had much to improve on, though. The Red Devils did that yesterday, demolishing the Eagles of Carthage 5-2. 

The Three Lions must return fire once again later today. Los Canaleros look to cause a major upset. The two national teams have never previously met. Their first encounter in Russia will prove fascinating.   

Panama began their World Cup opener quite well, but Belgium's quality proved too much during the last 45 minutes in Sochi. England, meanwhile, virtually dominated their clash with Tunisia. Harry Kane's stoppage-time header not only grabbed all three points, it gave the Three Lions a huge confidence boost for the challenge ahead.

Panama hope to pick up their first ever World Cup point. England aim for the win which will guarantee a last 16 place. One side will leave disappointed.    

The game takes place at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 13:00 BST.

England

FIFA Ranking: 12th

Gareth Southgate will stick with his 3-1-4-2 formation. Despite struggling to beat Tunisia convincingly, the system worked in creating many clear-cut chances. Out of 18 shots, eight hit the target. England also kept 61% possession. They will expect to control the ball once again against Panama.  

The Three Lions have one injury concern. Dele Alli was taken off during the 80th minute in the opener, replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek. After pulling up with a thigh strain in the first-half, the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder could miss both the remaining group games. Southgate will have fingers crossed for a quick return. 

Possible replacements for Alli include Fabian Delph and Loftus-Cheek. With England planning on taking the initiative, the latter would likely start. Southgate's other dilemma is whether to stick with Raheem Sterling or bring in Marcus Rashford. 

Panama

FIFA Ranking: 55th

Hernan Dario Gomez will urge his side to give everything. Panama realise this will be a difficult match, but they also know that putting constant pressure on England could pay off.    

Even though Los Canaleros failed to retain possession against Belgium, they created a few opportunities to score. Seven shots, two on target, gives the Three Lions something to think about. 

With no new injury concerns, Gomez is expected to stick with a 4-1-4-1 system. Blas Perez will lead the line. Panama's best hope is to press high up the pitch whenever the chance arises. England's defenders could become vulnerable if their passing game is disrupted. The Central Americans would then gain confidence.   

Prediction

Panama will cause a few problems, but they won't get the ball past Jordan Pickford. England, like against Tunisia, will gradually hit their stride. Expect a comfortable victory for Southgate's men.  

Kane will be the hero again. Scoring an opening game brace has boosted his confidence. The striker's sights are now set on winning the Golden Boot. He will lead the Three Lions to a 2-0 triumph over Panama.

Jamie Kynaston

For my sins, I'm a season ticket holder at Stoke City, I have been proud to watch them for over 20 years. I follow most of the UK leagues and the major European ones too, and I've been told that I talk way too much about football.


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