Group G Preview
October 10th, 2017: a historic day for Panama. They needed a win and a USA loss to qualify for their first ever World Cup. With the US losing at Trinidad and Tobago, Panama’s captain Roman Torres scored an 88th minute goal to put Panama up. And as the final whistles sounded, the party began. Panama was finally going to the World Cup.
And while they’ve qualified before, its been 12 years since we’ve seen Tunisia in the World Cup. England joins these two teams, who are the only country to feature a full 23 man roster made up of player entirely from their domestic league. Belgium rounds out this group, who come into the tournament as a dark horse to win it all.
Matches and dates (East coast time):
Belgium vs Panama, June 18th at 11 a.m.
Tunisia vs England, June 18th at 2 p.m.
Belgium vs Tunisia, June 23rd at 8 a.m.
England vs Panama, June 24th at 8 a.m.
England vs Belgium, June 28th at 2 p.m.
Panama vs Tunisia, June 28th at 2 p.m.
Belgium 7 points
England 7 points
Tunisia 1 point
Panama 1 point
Key match: England vs Belgium
Both teams should have six points coming into this game, but both teams will be wanting to win the group to potentially get a more favorable matchup in the round of 16. I expect Belgium to be ahead going into this game based off goal differential. England should come out of the gate trying to win this game, but eventually they’ll turn their focus to avoiding any injuries and yellow cards to add up that could cost a player to miss their next game.
Tunisia’s first World Cup in 12 years and Panama’s first ever World Cup will both be very short-lived. Both England and Belgium are head and shoulders better than both Tunisia and Panama. While England might not be as strong as they once were, they still should be able to make it out of this group with relative ease. And Belgium are in the midst of a golden generation and at any given time could have the best goalie, midfielder, and forward on the field, no matter who the opposition has.