Both Belgium and England are hot favourites to make it out of this group with ease but the other two teams will be up for an upset.

The FIFA World Cup is back yet again and after a long, exciting season of club football, the fans don’t have much time to breathe as the world football’s biggest event is back from this 14th of June in Russia.

Group G looks like a straightforward one at first glance. Minnows Panama and Tunisia square up against strong sides in England and Belgium, but in the World Cup, nothing should ever be taken for granted as all the teams who have come here have put in a lot of effort and will only look to go as far as possible in the tournament.

Group G consists of Belgium, England, Panama & Tunisia. Let’s take an in-depth look at all the four teamws.


Belgium

Factsheet

Last World Cup Finish (2010): Quarterfinals

Best World Cup Finish: Fourth place (1986)

Manager: Roberto Martinez

Confederation: UEFA

Captain: Eden Hazard

FIFA Ranking: 3

Likely Formation: 3-4-2-1

Road to World Cup

Belgium were group winners in their qualification campaign. Having secured 28 points out of a possible 30, The Red Devils made it through by scoring a record 43 goals and conceded just six during the Qualifiers. Belgium also ended their qualifying campaign without losing a single game.

Manager

Roberto Martinez was appointed as the Belgium manager in 2016 following his sacking by Premier League side Everton earlier in the same year. He replaced Marc Wilmotts, who till this day, is Belgium’s best performing manager.

Martinez has a strong back room staff in former English player Greame Jones and Frenchman Thierry Henry. The Spaniard seemed like a good choice for the Red Devils as the bulk of the Belgian players were in the Premier League and Martinez had been in the league for long enough to manage the players well on the International stage.

Squad

Manager

Chelsea star Eden Hazard is one to keep a close eye on as he’ll look to build on his strong finish to his club season. Hazard has been peaking on and off and come the World Cup, he’ll look to stake his claim as a world-class forward and prove that he can do it consistently. 

Kevin de Bruyne has been a revelation this season. Under Pep Guardiola, he has been in the form of his life and was a big reason for City’s dominance in the Premier League this campaign. He enters the tournament as one of the best midfielders in the competition. 

Romelu Lukaku has had a great season at the Theatre of Dreams. Lukaku will be a defender’s worst nightmare. His combination of speed and strength is enough to cause all sorts of trouble to any backline. 

SWOT Analysis


England

Factsheet

Last World Cup Finish (2010): Group Stage.

Best World Cup Finish: Champions (1966)

Manager: Gareth Southgate

Confederation: UEFA

Captain: Jordan Henderson

FIFA Ranking: 13

Likely Formation: 3-4-2-1 / 4-2-3-1

Road to World Cup

England, like Belgium, topped their group and qualified to the World Cup remaining unbeaten in their campaign. They got 26 points out of a possible 30 and conceded just three goals in 10 games. England confirmed their World Cup berth with a 1-0 win against Slovenia.

Manager

Gareth Southgate, a veteran of English football has been in-charge of this English squad ever since Sam Allardyce’s contract was terminated right after his first game due to a sting operation.

Southgate was officially appointed as England’s manager in November 2016 and although, there have been a lot of questions surrounding his appointment, he will be the one to lead the Three Lions into the 2018 World Cup.

Squad

 

Players to Watch

Harry Kane, England’s captain has been showcasing his goalscoring talent on a consistent basis in the Premier League. This season, he grabbed 30 goals for Tottenham Hotspur and will look to carry this impressive form over to the World Cup and propel England to the later stages of the tournament.

Raheem Sterling, himself an important part of Guardiola’s dominating City outfit, will look to bring out his talent at Russia, when he squares up against some of the world’s best. Sterling has shown massive improvement ever since Guardiola took over at theCitizens and it’ll be interesting to see how he shapes up.

Dele Alli is another youngster In this promising squad who England will look towards for their creativity. He has been a great partner for Kane at Spurs and they will look to reignite their partnership playing for the Three Lions.

SWOT Analysis


Panama

Factsheet

Last World Cup Finish (2010): Did not participate

Best World Cup Finish: First ever appearance

Manager: Hernan Dario Gomez

Confederation: CONCACAF

Captain: Roman Torres

FIFA Ranking: 55

Likely Formation: 5-4-1 / 4-4-2

Road to World Cup

Panama as a part of the CONCACAF federation started their qualification journey against Honduras where they picked up a big win against a strong opposition. Although, things started well for Panama, they went without a win in six games which brought them lower down the ranks and this meant that a World Cup berth was almost out of their hands.

Their final game was against a big opposition in Costa Rica where they had to win and hope that Honduras and the USA lose to confirm their place in Russia. However, the football gods were smiling down on them and everything went their way as they won 2-1 against Costa Rica.

Manager

Hernan Dario Gomez has been the manager of Panama for the past four years. Having a huge record next to his name as one of the only four managers to have taken more than three countries to the World Cups (Colombia (1998), Ecuador (2002) and Panama (2018), the Colombian has pulled off a herculean task this time around with Panama.

Will they make it far into the tournament? Maybe not. But, their qualification is a huge achievement in itself.

Squad

 

Players to Watch

Captain Roman Torres has been an inspiration to the whole squad. Torres is the player who scored the winning goal that helped Panama secure qualification for the World Cup. Bailing the team out in clutch moments, Torres has been crucial to the squad.

They are not a team filled with stars, but the team’s chemistry is one to look out for as the team has stayed the same and has had a very similar spine for almost a decade now, right from their keeper Jaime Penedo to striker Luis Tejada.

SWOT Analysis

 


Tunisia

Factsheet

Last World Cup Finish (2010): Did not participate

Best World Cup Finish: Group stage (78’, 98’, 02’, 06’)

Manager: Nabil Maaloul

Confederation: CAF

Captain: Aymen Mathlouthi

FIFA Ranking: 14

Likely Formation: 4-2-3-1

Road to World Cup

Tunisia were pitted against the likes of DR Congo, Guinea and Libya in their qualification group. All these teams had very realistic chances of heading to the World Cup, but the Tunisians came out as the better side as they went through the Qualifiers without a single defeat.

In their final qualification game, Tunisia needed to avoid defeat at all cost to confirm their place at the World Cup and they did just that against Libya as they drew the match 0-0. They topped their qualification group with 14 points, having won four games, drawn two.

Manager

This will be Nabil Maaloul’s second stint as a national team coach. Having been appointed in the middle of their qualification campaign, he successfully lead them to book a group stage berth in Russia.

His familiarity with the side can become a big strength and his ability to make bold tactical decisions in crunch times could really help the team go a long way.

Squad

 

 

Players to Watch

Saif-Eddie Khaoui who plays for Troyes in the French League will be a very interesting player for Tunisia as he is their creative outlet. Tunisia’s strength is in their midfield and he contributes to their attacking phase in abundance.

Whabi Khazri, a former Sunderland player whilst they were in the Premier League, is a specialist set-piece taker who is capable of punishing teams when a free-kick is awarded in a favourable position.

Full-backs often love contributing to an attack and Tunisia’s Ali Maaloul’s darting runs down the wings will be a surprise package for the teams that are lining up against this side.

SWOT Analysis

 

Fixtures

18 June 2018 – Belgium Vs. Panama, 8:30 pm (IST)

18 June 2018 – Tunisia Vs. England, 11:30 pm (IST)

23 June 2018 – Belgium Vs. Tunisia, 5:30 pm (IST)

24 June 2018 – England Vs. Panama, 5:30 pm (IST)

28 June 2018 – England Vs. Belgium, 11:30 pm (IST)

28 June 2018 – Panama Vs. Tunisia, 11:30 pm (IST)

What to Expect

The group looks to be a very routine pass for the big teams in Belgium and England. Although, the Three Lions tend to slip up on the big stages, this group should be an easy pass for the twp big teams. The gap in quality between those two teams and Tunisiaand Panama was huge and the minnows will like exit at the group stage.