It was an epic roller coaster of emotions for England and their legions of fans as they kicked off their World Cup campaign last week. Despite being in complete control and dominating the match vs. Tunisia, they found themselves seconds away from a 1-1 draw. Enter captain Harry Kane, who put the Three Lions on his back with his second goal of the match off of a beautifully placed header. England won the match 2-1 in stoppage time, and despite the close score, the English were in complete control. That same level of execution and competitiveness will be needed against a gritty but overall poor Panama side.
Panama looked keen to try and hold Belgium for a full 90 minutes in their opening clash, and it almost seemed to work. Though the Belgians controlled the match and possession, this was a 0-0 game at the half. Panama defended very hard, bordering on dirty at times against the talented Belgians – but in the end the skill won out. Belgium routed the Panamanians as they clearly faded toward the end of the match. Panama entered this tournament as one of the lowest side at Russia 2018 and frankly their first match confirmed that. This is a group playing for pride right now, and securing any sort of result against England would be considered a huge upset.
It has been a successful and profitable tournament for us here at The Sports Geek right now, and we will look to keep that rolling as we prepare for the all-important final group stage matches next week. For England/Panama, read on below the odds for a match breakdown and betting pick. Enjoy the game!
England vs. Panama Betting Odds:
Over 2.5 (-112)
Under 2.5 (-108)
England vs. Panama Pick:
This needs to be a no-nonsense performance for England as they take on Panama. The gritty Panamanians will certainly try to frustrate and beat-up on the talented English, but if England can stick with their ball movement and creative runs, they should be able to pile on some goals. This match-up represents a huge disparity in talent.
For England, it is expected that Dele Alli is battling an injury knock and the talented Crystal Palace midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek will replace him. RLC looked outstanding coming on late against Tunisia, and his blend of speed and physicality should play well against the tough Panamanians. He won’t back down and has the size to win balls and blow past an ageing back-line.
Panama clearly faded badly against Belgium – a simple byproduct of chasing the ball around for the same match. That could and likely will happen again on Sunday morning against England. They will line up in a pretty defensive 4-1-4-1 formation, and try to frustrate the English as much as they can. They concede many fouls, but that could also be problematic as the Three Lions approach their box and utilize their decisive speed advantage.
With Loftus-Cheek in the fold, I like England’s lineup even more. His energy is infectious and the English attack looked lethal with him on the pitch against Tunisia. England has a big advantage with their pace in this match, and should be able to routinely win balls and the midfield and be able to distribute to the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Raheem Sterling, and Marcus Rashford when he is on.
With Belgium taking maximum points and also securing a very positive goal differential, the English know the merits of keeping pace on both points and goals before their crucial match next week. As many predicted, that game will decide the group winner – a distinction both sides will likely be eager to secure. Look for England to win comfortably and be able to put some goals on the board as well.
MY PICK = Over 2.5 (-112)