WORLD CUP PREVIEW – MONDAY
SWEDEN vs SOUTH KOREA
Group F – 1pm BST – Novgorod
Sweden – With no win in their last 4 and no goals in their last 3, Zlatan may have a point to feel aggrieved at not featuring in the squad. With Germany losing to Mexico, this is a must win if Sweden are to progress.
South Korea – The Koreans are in similar form to Sweden. They have only won 1 in 6 with recent defeats to Senegal and Bosnia a concern.
LIKELY LINE UPS
Sweden – (4-4-2) Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson; Claesson, Ekdal, Larsson, Forsberg; Toivonen, Berg
South Korea – (4-4-2) Seung-Gyu; Hyun-Soo, Kyung-Won, Young-Gwon, Joo-Ho; Sung-Yeung, Ja-Cheol, Chul, Jae-Sung; Hee-Chan, Son
A tough game to predict as neither team look particularly good going in to the tournament. Both will be desperate for a win after Mexico shocking Germany. I have a feeling South Korea will surprise a few people here and grab an unexpected win. Sweden 1-2 South Korea
South Korea 2-1 – 18/1
Son first goalscorer – 13/2
Forsberg and Son 2+ shots on target each – 8/1
BELGIUM vs PANAMA
Group G – 4pm BST – Sochi
Belgium – Belgium go in to the World Cup 19 games unbeaten. In recent friendlies they have hammered Costa Rica, Egypt and Saudi Arabia (4-1, 3-0 and 4-0 respectively) and gained a credible draw with Portugal.
Panama – Warm up games for Panama haven’t been quite as good as they were for Belgium to say the least. However, since losing 6-0 to Switzerland back in March, they have tightened up the defence. Results since then have produced a 1-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago, a 0-0 draw with Northern Ireland and a 1-0 loss to Norway.
LIKELY LINE UPS
Belgium – (3-5-2) Courtois; Vertonghen, Boyata, Alderweireld; Witsel, De Bruyne, Carrasco, Meunier, Mertens; Hazard, Lukaku
Panama – (4-5-1) Penedo; Torres, Escobar, Davis, Murillo; Gomez, Godoy, Cooper, Barcenas, Rodriguez; Perez
I can’t see anything other than a comfortable Belgium victory. Panama’s only hope is that they can keep the score down to 0-0 at half time and Belgium begin to get desperate. If the Belgians can get an early goal, it could be a long 90 minutes for Panama. Belgium 4-0 Panama
Belgium 4-0 – 9/1
Lukaku to score a brace – 11/4
Belgium to win to nil – 4/7
TUNISIA vs ENGLAND
Group G – 7pm BST – Volgograd
Tunisia – England fans may not be pleased to know that Tunisia have been no pushovers in recent friendlies against top opposition. Spain only beat them 1-0 with a late winner and Portugal were held to a 2-2 draw. Before the defeat to Spain, Tunisia were unbeaten in 9 games.
England – In the 2 warm up games, England looked very impressive. Their first half performance against Nigeria in a 2-1 win was hugely encouraging as was the way they brushed past Costa Rica 2-0. England are unbeaten in 10.
LIKELY LINE UPS
Tunisia – (4-2-3-1) Mathlouthi; Nagguez, Meriah, Youssef, Maaloul; Skhiri, Sassi; Khazri, Khaoui, Sliti; Youssef
England – (5-3-2) Pickford; Trippier, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Young; Dier, Lingard, Alli; Kane, Sterling
Tunisia may be a tricky opener for England. Southgate’s men will be expected to win and win well but Tunisia are no pushovers. If England can continue the performances they produced in recent friendlies they should be able to get the job done. Tunisia 0-2 England
England 2-0 – 11/2
Kane to score and England to win – 1/1
Kane to score, England win, over 2.5 goals and Sassi carded – 12/1
– Robert Shiers