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  1. #1
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    Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England

    World Cup 2018: Belgium and England will fight for Group G

    Group G of the World Cup looks, on the face of it, as though it will be a fairly straightforward affair. If all goes to plan, Belgium and England will meet in the last game to determine who tops the group, having dismissed Tunisia and Panama along the way. Of course, if either of the big nations should slip up, then things could become a lot more complicated ...

    Belgium
    On paper, Belgium is as imposing a side as there is in the World Cup. The country’s heralded “golden generation” -- a group of players including Thomas Vermaelen, Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard, Moussa Dembele, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois, Mousa Dembele, and more -- has so far failed to live up to the immense hype, but if the squad comes together under manager Roberto Martinez, they could go very, very far.

    That’s a big if, however. Martinez is a wonderful TV personality and a charming man, but it remains to be seen if he can be the manager to take this many incredible pieces and get them to work together. If he does figure out how to take the generational talents of De Bruyne, Hazard, and Lukaku and get them to thrive as one, and the defense coalesces around a healthy Kompany, this is a team that has a real chance of winning the Final.

    Key player: Kevin De Bruyne

    De Bruyne was always a scintillating talent, but he has taken his game to new heights under Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. A breathtaking passer of the ball, De Bruyne will be charged with breaking open opponents’ defenses. We also need to see how he’ll fit alongside Belgium’s other breathtaking attacking midfielder, Eden Hazard.

    Panama
    American fans will know Panama as one of the teams that, along with Honduras, kept the United States from making the World Cup. They were aided in part by a phantom goal that never crossed the line in their final World Cup qualifier. But despite the circumstances they qualified in, Panama has a talented and experienced team that will be difficult to beat.

    Some older Panamanian legends are hoping they get their first chance to compete at a World Cup. Jaime Penedo, Felipe Baloy, Blas Perez, Gabriel Gomez, Roman Torres, and Luis Tejada will all go into June over 30 years old and with over 100 caps. Some of them will make the final squad, and some won’t.

    As for how they’ll play, expect to see a very physical style from the Panamanians. They might not have the skill or pace of their opponents, but they’re generally unmatched for toughness.

    Key player: Armando Cooper

    A midfielder who can do a bit of everything for Panama. He’s played in two- and three-man central midfields, and on the wing as well. His work rate and versatility are key for his team.

    Tunisia
    Tunisia makes regular appearances in the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations, and its club teams are competitive in continental competition as well, but The Eagles of Carthage have struggled to make an impact on the biggest stage. But thanks to a favorable qualifying draw, Tunisia is in Russia ahead of better-known teams like Cameroon, Algeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast.

    The Tunisians had to beat the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, and Guinea to get here, which is the easiest road that any of the African qualifiers had to go down. But, to Tunisia’s credit, they went undefeated in qualifying and pulled out the victory in a must-win game over DRC in September. They will be among the World Cup’s biggest underdogs, but they can’t be counted out before they’ve lost a competitive game.

    Key player: Youssef Msakni

    You might not be familiar with Msakni, who plays in the Qatari Stars League, but he led Tunisia with three goals and two assists in qualifying. They won’t have much of the ball against top competition and will need him to create something from very few chances.

    England
    It is a strange time for the England national team. The plan was that Sam Allardyce would be leading a newly-confident, baggage-free England to Russia, but a pint of wine and an unwise conversation did for that idea. Instead, nice man Gareth Southgate has done the job, and England have looked … okay?

    Qualification was a smooth, unbeaten affair, though England tended more to the workmanlike than the brilliant. In the absence of a clear first-team, Southgate has been experimenting with a back three, which kept creditable clean sheets in friendlies against Germany and Brazil. Questions remain over the depth of quality in midfield, and just who should play in defence, but Harry Kane's continued excellence at Spurs and Raheem Sterling's levelling-up at Manchester City suggest that England, however they end up performing, might at least be fun.

    Key player: Whoever ends up in goal.

    With just half a season left before the tournament, it's anybody's guess who England's number one actually is. Joe Hart is having a miserable time at West Ham, but his competitors — Fraser Forster, Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Tom Heaton — all have their own question marks, be they form, fitness, experience, or quality. Southgate will be hoping that a solution emerges over the rest of the season.

    Prediction
    Belgium
    England
    Tunisia
    Panama

    https://www.sbnation.com/2017/12/1/1...panama-tunisia


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  2. #2
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    Belgium is my team. They have no weakness on paper. Strong in attack, midfield, defense, etc.

  3. #3
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    Belgium and England should advance easily I do feel Panama will put up some sort of fight though

  4. #4
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    Belgium and England will qualify from this group.

  5. #5
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    World Cup 2018: England arrive in Russia for tournamentEngland have arrived in Russia before the Wor

    England have arrived in Russia before the World Cup, with manager Gareth Southgate saying he wants his team to play with flair and entertain the nation.

    They landed at St Petersburg airport and will be based in the nearby village of Repino, in north west Russia.

    England's first game in Group G is against Tunisia on Monday.

    "We hope we can send people to work the following day having enjoyed our matches," said Southgate.

    Moments after landing, Southgate revealed that Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford picked up a "slight knock" in training and will be assessed before Wednesday's open training session.

    The tournament begins on Thursday when hosts Russia face Saudi Arabia at 16:00 BST.

    "To lead England as a manager is an incredibly proud moment," said Southgate, who won 57 caps for England and played at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.

    "I will take a brief moment to take it in and then prepare for the matches we have got - and the task starts from when we get to the hotel."

    Reigning champions Germany have also arrived, landing at Vnukovo airport in south west Moscow. They open their campaign against Mexico on Sunday.

    England also face Panama on 24 June and Belgium, one of the pre-tournament favourites, on 28 June.

    Southgate's side have warmed up with wins over Nigeria and Costa Rica, with many pundits praising the effective - and sometimes stylish - football on show.

    Their displays have been in contrast to England's performances in recent years, which critics say have been hallmarked by disjointed and often dull football - just 40,000 fans turned up for a friendly against Norway at Wembley in 2014, and some travelling fans booed at the end of a 4-0 win in Malta last year.

    The displays in the warm-up matches have been in contrast to England's performances in recent years, which critics say have been hallmarked by disjointed and often dull football - just 40,000 fans turned up for a friendly against Norway at Wembley in 2014, and some travelling fans booed a the end of a 4-0 win in Malta last year.

    "I've talked before about there being a disconnect between the supporters and the team and I've felt that there's different ways to bridge that," Southgate said. "The most important is the way you play, and your performances and your results.

    "We know we are not the finished article - in fact, we're a long way from it - but I think people see signs of progress and enjoy watching us and the manner in which we try to play.

    "We are seeing a team that is enjoying each other's company, getting on well, is very proud to represent the nation.

    "We ask people to pay a lot of money to watch football. In the end, we want to entertain where we possibly can.

    "Ultimately, we know we'll be judged on results - but we have to focus on the processes.

    "If we do all of those things and we play with a smile on our face, enjoy our football, enjoy being in a tournament, then I think we will get results."

    'Boredom shouldn't be a factor'
    England will be staying at the ForRest Mix Club on Repino, less than an hour's drive away from St Petersburg, with a population of 2,400.

    "We like the town and we like St Petersburg," said Southgate. "Hopefully the players and family will get an opportunity to go into St Petersburg when not working.

    "We have taken the hotel for ourselves which will be good for the balance of working and players being able to relax and have time for themselves. I am pleased with the base and looking forward to meeting the community."

    England captain Harry Kane revealed the players would spend their spare time playing table tennis or the computer game Fortnite.

    "We have a great bond together, we are similar ages and all get on," said Kane.

    Former England striker Alan Shearer says the team has had a "very positive" build-up and Southgate has "selection headaches, which is good".

    England's players complained of boredom at their base during their ill-fated 2010 World Cup campaign, which ended with a 4-1 defeat by Germany in the last 16.

    But Shearer says boredom should not be a factor in Russia.

    "It should be best three or four weeks of your life - you don't have to do a thing," Shearer told BBC Sport. "For four weeks of your life, you shouldn't get bored.

    "There seems to be a very good team spirit. An openness within the squad to speak to press, and both press and players seem to have enjoyed it."

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/44451229

  6. #6
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  7. #7
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    England playing better than the over-rated non-golden generation of the last three WCs.

  8. #8
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    England are monitoring the fitness of midfielder Dele Alli after he suffered a minor thigh strain during the 2-1 World Cup win over Tunisia on Monday.

    Tottenham's Alli, 22, was substituted after 80 minutes of the match in Volgograd, with England playing Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday, 24 June.

    He went for a scan on Tuesday afternoon as his team-mates trained.

    The Football Association has confirmed the assessment showed a minor thigh strain that will need managing.

    "Hopefully I am OK. It's my quad," said Alli after Monday's game.

    He looked set to come off in the first half after suffering a knock, with Fabian Delph stripped and seemingly ready to come on, but that substitution did not happen with Ruben Loftus-Cheek replacing Alli with 10 minutes left.

    "We had to keep monitoring Dele," said England boss Gareth Southgate on Monday.

    "He was feeling a little bit of an issue just before half-time, but he felt he could carry on and I thought the runs that he was making and the way he was pressing the ball was still causing a problem."

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/44542697

  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    England will be hoping to not just beat, but to thrash Panama as goal difference could play a part!

  11. #11
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  12. #12
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    England ahead of Belgium in the tournament Fair Play table, so barring a sending off against Belgium, England only have to draw to finish top of the group. Senegal look like the best side in Group H, so England will want to avoid them.

  13. #13
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    Great win for England! Couldn't watch it as was out for opticians appointment, although they were showing it there, some people came in to the opticians, the people were like "do you have an appointment" and they were like "no, I'm just watching the football" !

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    England ahead of Belgium in the tournament Fair Play table, so barring a sending off against Belgium, England only have to draw to finish top of the group. Senegal look like the best side in Group H, so England will want to avoid them.
    Japan have a great chance to win their group as well, finishing second wouldn't be bad at all from England's POV. In the KO stage they would then need to beat Japan and Mexico/Switzerland (likely) in order to reach the semi-finals which will probably feature Spain.

    If they top their group then it could be Columbia or Senegal and then in the QF Brazil / Germany and then France in the semi-finals.

    England should just focus on winning regardless though.
    Last edited by shaz619; 24th June 2018 at 17:23.


    Ah, so this is what it feels like

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaz619 View Post
    Japan have a great chance to win their group as well, finishing second wouldn't be bad at all from England's POV. In the KO stage they would then need to beat Japan and Mexico/Switzerland (likely) in order to reach the semi-finals which will probably feature Spain.

    If they top their group then it could be Columbia or Senegal and then in the QF Brazil / Germany and then France in the semi-finals.

    England should just focus on winning regardless though.
    The route in finishing second is a lot better and I would prefer it.

    Real business starts in KOs; I want us to really go for it and hammer whoever we face in last 16.

  16. #16
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rayyman View Post
    Belgium is my team. They have no weakness on paper. Strong in attack, midfield, defense, etc.
    My favorite team into the Semis. Hope they win it this time.


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