Tunisia players celebrate
Monday Jun 11, 2018. 17:30
2018 World Cup, Group G
Dates – 18-28 June, 2018
Venues – Sochi, Volgograd, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Kaliningrad, Saransk
England’s promising young team will fancy their chances of progressing from Group G at the 2018 World Cup, with only a massively-talented Belgium team set to really test them in the first round of the tournament.
Gareth Southgate’s England have undergone a quiet revolution in the past 18 months or so, with the mild-mannered manager gradually turning his team into one which is characterised by youth, energy and versatility. Make no mistake, the ‘Three Lions’ are not contenders for the trophy, but they should perform far beyond the lame showing of the class of 2014 which exited in the group stage.
On paper, the class team of this foursome is Belgium. Boasting immense talent from back to front – a spine of Thibaut Courtois, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Mousa Dembele, Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku is as good as any team in the tournament – the ‘Red Devils’ are one of the dark horses for glory at Russia 2018.
However, there is a lingering doubt over their ‘big game temperament’ and having Roberto Martinez as manager does not breed confidence. One feels that Belgium are highly regarded despite the Spaniard’s presence, rather than because of it.
African representatives Tunisia are tough to get a read on. They only just edged ahead of DR Congo in their CAF qualifying group, but their resilience and tactical nous under coach Nabil Maaloul are not to be underestimated. The Carthage Eagles are perhaps one of the most dour teams heading to the tournament, but they will not be easily brushed aside by anyone.
Group G is completed by World Cup debutants Panama, who finished third in the CONCACAF qualifying group behind Mexico and Costa Rica, forcing Honduras into a failed bid to qualify via the playoffs and eliminating the USA entirely. ‘Los Canaleros’ boast a team full of experience, but one feels they have overachieved just by reaching Russia 2018 and will have to pull off something very special to finish in the top two of the final standings.
Group G fixtures (all times CAT)
18 June 2018, 17h00 – Belgium v Panama – Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
18 June 2018, 20h00 – Tunisia v England – Volgograd Arena, Volgograd
23 June 2018, 14h00 – Belgium v Tunisia – Otkritie Stadium, Moscow
24 June 2018, 14h00 – England v Panama – Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
28 June 2018, 20h00 – England v Belgium – Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad
28 June 2018, 20h00 – Panama v Tunisia – Mordovia Arena, Saransk
Group G head-to-heads (as per FIFA stats database, in reference to ‘home’ team)
Belgium v Panama – No previous matches
Tunisia v England – P2 W0 D1 L1 GF1 GA 3
Belgium v Tunisia – P3 W1 D1 L1 GF3 GA3
England v Panama – No previous matches
England v Belgium – P21 W15 D5 L1 GF70 GA25
Panama v Tunisia – No previous matches