ENGLAND continue their 2018 World Cup journey on Sunday when meeting Panama in Novgorod. Adam Goodwin (@AGJournalism) previews the Group G contest.
England v Panama | Sunday 24th June 2018, 13:00 | BBC
Pubs around England erupted as Harry Kane’s last-minute winner secured England’s first World Cup win since 2010.
Panama held Belgium in Sochi for the first-half but, in the end, they succumbed to a 3-0 loss. A defeat to England will mean a premature exit from their first ever World Cup.
Despite needing a 93rd minute winner, England were well worth their victory and Gareth Southgate’s side put in an impressive performance. The Three Lions should’ve been three or four nil up at half-time but just failed to take their chances. If they can play as well as they did in their first game, England will be confident of securing their spot in the knockout stages.
The only injury worry for England is Dele Alli, who suffered a thigh injury in that win against Tunisia. It looks like Ruben Loftus-Cheek will replace the Spurs man in centre-midfield and he’ll look to impress the manager in what will be just his sixth cap for his country.
England are unbeaten in their last 11 games, including wins against Costa Rica, Holland and Slovakia – all of whom have a higher Elo ranking than Panama. The bookies have priced them up at best price 2/9, clearly heavily favouring the Three Lions on Sunday.
It was a valiant first-half effort from Panama on Monday, but Belgium’s quality ultimately showed. Their extremely defensive tactics did make it tough for Roberto Martinez’s side to break them down but if they are to find the goals needed to qualify from Group G, they’ll have to show more attacking intent.
Blas Perez was the centre-forward for Panama but he kept dropping deep, offering them almost nothing in offensive areas.
All but one of Panama’s midfielders ended up with a booking against Belgium and this might be a similar tactic employed against England, with the Three Lions expected to have a large majority of possession. But with the majority of bookmakers offering very little value in any booking points markets, they’re clearly expecting them to be just as ill-disciplined as I am.
Panama’s average xG from open play per-game in qualifying was 0.86 and they had an xG of just 0.84 against Belgium, showing the lack of firepower the Canal Men have up-top.
When you also look at the fact that England kept a clean sheet in 8/10 (80%) of their qualifying games, the 4/6 with Ladbrokes on England to win to nil looks like superb value.
The three-man defence looked extremely solid against Tunisia, and if it wasn’t for the dubious penalty given against Kyle Walker, you’d imagine this bet would’ve landed on Monday too.
England v Panama – England to win to nil (4/6 Ladbrokes)