WORLD CUP PREVIEW – GROUP G
Belgium – With 43 goals, 9 wins and 1 draw, Belgium impressed in qualifying. Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku scored 11 times as Belgium eased past the likes of Greece and Bosnia.
Panama – Panama qualified for their first ever World Cup with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Costa Rica in their final group game. A shock defeat for USA against Trinidad and Tobago meant the Americans failed to make it to the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Tunisia – The Tunisians went unbeaten in the final group of African qualifying winning 4 games and drawing 2. Youssef Msakni top scored with 3 goals. A 0-0 draw with Libya in the final game was enough for Tunisia to seal qualification.
England – Gareth Southgate’s men went unbeaten in qualifying winning 8 and drawing 2. In a highly entertaining clash against rivals Scotland, Harry Kane scored a last gasp equaliser to snatch a 2-2 draw. Captain Kane also top scored for England with 5 goals.
Belgium – Kevin De Bruyne
In one of the strongest squads in the World Cup, City playmaker De Bruyne is the standout player. After an unbelievable season for the Manchester club, KDB will be looking to fire Belgium to World Cup glory. Striker Lukaku will be looking forward to the service De Bruyne will no doubt provide.
Panama – Gabriel Gomez
Gomez is Panama’s most capped player in history with over 140 caps. A key figure in Panama’s third place finish in the 2015 Gold Cup, Gomez will be hoping to help lead his team to a shock victory or 2 this summer.
Tunisia – Youssef Msakni
Top scorer in qualifying, Msakni will be looking to add to his tally of 9 international goals. Now plying his trade in Qatar, Tunisia will be looking for the attacking midfielder to provide a spark to get them through.
England – John Stones
With Southgate’s innovative wing back formation, enabling England’s attacking talents Kane, Sterling and Alli to roam free, Stones will be a massive player for England in the centre of defence. Stones will be used in the centre of a 3 man defence and will be key for England’s tactic of building from the back.
1st Belgium – Group G should come down to England vs Belgium in the final game. I think this will be a draw and it will be down to who can put the most past Tunisia and Panama. With De Bruyne, Lukaku and Hazard, I can see Belgium putting a fair few past these 2 teams.
2nd England – With no pressure going into this tournament for once, England may surprise people. Southgate has England playing fluid football. The only concern will be whether the likes of Sterling and Alli can convert vital chances.
3rd Tunisia – The African side may prove tough to beat. Well organised and comfortable in qualifying, they should have confidence going in to the tournament.
4th Panama – It would be amazing if Panama could pull of a surprise or two (as long as its not against England) but I really can’t see it happening.
Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama – 9/4
Lukaku golden boot – 16/1
Panama to score 0 goals – 5/1
– Robert Shiers