We are in the final stretch! Last two…
Group G contains England, Belgium, Tunisia and Panama.
Quite a hard one to find value in, with England an Belgium expected to progress, but in Tunisia there lies a challenge for both. Panama could well be the whipping boys of the group, not to sound too harsh.
Here’s my view on Group G:
Quality going forward, creative in midfield and a solid back-line. There really isn’t any reason why they won’t win this group, unless England pull something out of their backside against one of them.
There is a question about their defending, as is such with Roberto Martinez – and with no recognised left back after Jordan Lukaku was omitted from the final 23, and with Martinez picking the likes of Boyata and Fellaini over Nainggolan – I’m a little baffled.
With very immobile left and right backs – Meunier (very tall/not too agile or quick) likely to play right back and Vertonghen or Vermaelen at left back (titanic…) – that is a potential weakness. Against England’s rapid attack, they could be exposed!
Still, I think they will win the group with either 7 or 9 points.
England’s strength is their pace. Rashford, Vardy, Rose, Young, Walker, Lingard, Alli etc – a very pacey counter attacking team. They seem to have settled on a 5-3-2/3-5-2, but my worry and maybe everyone else’s is the back three + keeper. Pickford is decent, but he conceded a tonne of goals this season, with the 2nd choice being Butland, who was relegated with Stoke.
In the three centre backs you have John Stones, who was a calamity at times last season. You also have Harry Maguire, who isn’t the most mobile and potentially Gary Cahill, who wasn’t even first choice at Chelsea come the end of the season and getting on a bit. Walker looks good there, as does Trippier at right wing-back, and either Danny Rose or Ashley Young at LWB.
Should beat Tunisia and Panama, but could struggle vs Belgium. Likely RO16 tie vs Colombia awaits.
Better than a lot of people expect – but lack end product. 11 goals in 6 qualifying games, 4 were in one game. They have several dangerous players, including Marseille player Saif-Eddine Khaoui who has been impressing at Troyes, and Wahbi Khazri – currently residing at Rennes on loan from Sunderland is another attacking player. Defensively they have several players from Ligue 1 and even Benalouane from Leicester – so there is some calibre.
Drew 2-2 with both Turkey and Portugal recently, and have not lost since early last year. Friendlies are meaningless, but Tunisia certainly can’t be taken lightly.
Of of a couple on debut at this summers’ tournament, but don’t expect much. VERY physical, not great footballers, ageing squad (possibly oldest in Russia) and play an ultra-negative 5-4-1, which against Belgium could easily turn into a flat back 9 with one outlet.
Gabriel Torres is their star player of sorts, but in all honesty Panama are happy to be there and were quite fortunate that the USA were so poor and the final set of results went their way.
I fancy them to leave pointless @ 2/1 – and for the banker Under 1.5 Points @ 7/10 – realistically I can barely see them getting a point against Tunisia.
Group Forecast – 1: Belgium / 2: England @ 11/8
Excellent Value: Bel/Eng 1-2 Forecast @ 11/8
High Value: Panama – 0 Points @ 2/1
Banker: Panama Under 1.5 Points @ 7/10