England v Panama World Cup 2018 Match Preview
After winning their opening game against Tunisia, the England camp will be fully expected to get another 3 points on Sunday against Panama. 2 Harry Kane headers were enough to defeat Tunisia earlier in the week, but many will be hopeful that this match will be a lot more straightforward. A win against Panama will put England through to the round of 16 with a match with a match to spare. On the other hand, Panama need a first World Cup win to have any chance of making it out of Group G.
England’s Opening World Cup Match
Against Tunisia, England started off as one of the brightest teams of the tournament so far. The opening 20 minutes saw England take an early lead, as well as missing a few good chances to put them clear of a poor Tunisian side. Jesse Lingard had a shot well saved and hit the post during the first half that was mostly dominated by England. If it weren’t for Kyle Walker giving away a penalty after 35 minutes, England might have found the second half more comfortable. Chances came and went throughout the second half, with Tunisia more than happy to sit back and defend everything that came their way. Set pieces were a particular strong point, with Harry Maguire and John Stones both registering shots on target from corners. Maguire constantly bullied the Tunisian defence at any opportunity and it was no surprise that England’s winner involved him. A late corner was heading goalwards by Maguire before Harry Kane perfectly placed a header passed Mathlouthi in the Tunisian goal.
Even after a first win at the 2018 World Cup, there were definitely areas that England could have improved. It is clear that Kyle Walker is not 100% sure on his role as a centre back. Playing on the right side of a back 3 in Southgate’s system, Walker looked uncomfortable on more than one occasion. Although he protested, Walker was at fault for the Tunisia penalty. Especially with VAR now in place, you can’t excuse elbowing an attacker in the face. Going forward, Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli were almost non existent. Sterling is often criticised for his England form, only scoring 2 goals for his national team. But with 23 goals last season, is it really that easy to drop him from the team? Similar to Dele Alli, on his day Sterling is unstoppable. It remains to be seen how many more opportunities he will get from Southgate before a number of ready made replacements might step up to the plate. Ruben Loftus Cheek and Marcus Rashford both made important late impacts against Panama, giving Gareth Southgate a few headaches ahead of his next team selection.
Panama’s First Ever World Cup Match
Panama came into the World Cup with almost no expectations. A small country in Central America, their match against Belgium was the first time that Panama had competed in football’s biggest competition. They started off admirably, surviving the opening 45 minutes against a very strong Belgian front line. Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard both had chances early on, but overall 0-0 was a fair representation of the first half. If it hadn’t been for an incredible Dries Mertens volley 5 minutes after the interval, the result might have been less dramatic. The ball was cleared to Mertens on the corner of the 18 yard box, with the Napoli forward hitting first time volley that looped over the keeper into the far corner. Romelu Lukaku grabbed a brace as Belgium looked far more comfortable after the opening goal. Panama star Roman Torres will be hoping to sure up his defence before the game against England. After a historic Panama Qualification campaign, they will want to send their fans home with something to remember.
When and where to watch?
England v Panama will be live on BBC One. Kick off is at 1pm, but coverage will start from 12. To make sure you don’t miss a single match of the 2018 World Cup, take a look at Bet UK's Complete World Cup Fixture List.
If you're on the road or can’t get to a TV in time for the match, then BBC 5 Live and Talk Sport will both have full match commentary.
If you are following England in Russia for the 2018 World Cup, you’ll need to head to Nizhny Novgorod. This is the first time an England side will play at the stadium, which was purposely built for the World Cup in Russia. There is a dedicated metro station for the ground, the Strelka Metro Station. Head towards there for simple walking access to the ground. For more information on all of the grounds being used for the World Cup in Russia, just take a look at Bet UK’s Stadium Guide.
Head to Bet UK’s home for the 2018 World Cup to keep up to date with all the latest news.