Your round up of every team playing in Russia 2018 continues with Group G. You can catch all the action live at Topgolf.
Belgium are matched only by France and Germany in terms of first team quality. In defence, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld. In midfield, Alex Witsel and Kevin De Bruyne. In attack, Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku. The likes of Moussa Dembele are first-class options on the bench. So why has this golden generation so far failed to reach the semi-finals of a major tournament?
Source: Belgium National Team vs USA 2013 by Erik Drost is licensed by CC 2.0
In previous tournaments, Belgium have been over-reliant on Eden Hazard to create. The emergence of Kevin De Bruyne as a world-class player at Manchester City should change that – as should the experience Romelu Lukaku has gained playing for United. Is this the year these stand-out individuals finally gel as a team?
World Cup virgins Panama are here for the experience, according to coach Hernan Dario Gomez, who having managed Colombia and Ecuador in World Cups, has plenty of international pedigree.
Source: Ecuador vs Panama by Agencia de Noticias ANDES is licensed by CC 2.0
Such “happy to be here” messaging is likely an exercise in setting expectations low; Panama scored just nine goals in ten matches in qualifying and only scraped through in the third placed CONCACAF spot thanks to Trinidad & Tobago’s shock victory over the USA in the final fixture round.
Back at the World Cup for the first time since 2006, Tunisia probably won’t reach the round of 16 but will provide a sterner test than Panama. Henryk Kasperczak was sacked as coach following a quarter final exit from the African Cup of Nations – such is the standing of Tunisia on their own continent.
Source: Tunisia vs Algeria 2013 AFCON is licensed by CC 2.0
Having said that, when one of a team’s main threats is a Sunderland player (winger Wahbi Khazri) it seems unlikely any manager could succeed on the world stage. Having failed to lure Sevilla striker Ben Yedder, Tunisia’s star player is Youseff Msakni, who plys his trade in the Qatari league.
Much like the current Belgium team (so far), England’s golden generation of Lampard, Gerrard etc failed to live up to their billing. So where do England go now? With the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling at his disposal, can Gareth Southgate reach the quarter finals?
Source: Dele Alli 2018 by Tomasz Baranowski is licensed by CC 2.0
He should at least make it through the group, even if it’s second to Belgium. Let’s just hope England fans stay realistic about their chances of glory this summer – and that the players don’t melt in the heat as they did against Iceland at Euro 2016.
GROUP G FIXTURES LIVE AT TOPGOLF
Belgium vs Panama
18/06 KO 4pm
England vs Tunisia 18/06 KO 7PM
Belgium vs Tunisia 23/06 KO 1PM
England vs Panama 24/06 KO 1PM
England vs Belgium 28/06 KO 7PM
Panama vs Tunisia 28/06 KO 7PM