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Apr 20, 2018
Apr 20, 2018

World Cup Group G preview

World Cup Group G preview

World Cup Group G prediction

Who will qualify from World Cup Group G?

Group G betting odds

World Cup Group G preview

England and Belgium were pleased to be drawn in Group G, but who will top the group? Read this 2018 World Cup Group G preview for all the expert analysis you need ahead of the tournament.

World Cup Group G prediction: What do the odds say?

World Cup Group G Prediction

Position

Team

Over/under points

1

Belgium

6.5

2

England

6.5

3

Tunisia

2.5

4

Panama

1.5

 

Belgium

Elo World Ranking: 9

Pinnacle World Cup Power Ranking: 6

Previous best performance: Fourth place (1986)

Top scorer in qualifying: Romelu Lukaku (11 goals)

Key player: Kevin De Bruyne

Odds to advance from group: 1.104*

Odds to win World Cup: 12.090*

The famous Belgian Golden Generation enters this tournament with perhaps their best ever team.

Any attack that features the talent of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard is sure to create opportunities. The emphasis will be on Romelu Lukaku to convert those opportunities into the goals that can help the Belgians towards the business end of the competition.

He is unlikely to be short of goalscoring chances in this group. The exceptional talents within the Belgian squad dwarf those of Tunisia and, especially, Panama making Belgian victories very likely in those matches.

To cover for a deficit of fullbacks Roberto Martinez usually opts for an attacking 3-4-3 formation. Thibaut Courtois tends goal behind a strong England based back three of Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany and Toby Alderweireld. Mousa Dembele and Axel Witsel compete for the chance to join KDB in the central midfield positions. Thomas Meunier is nailed on as the Belgium right wing-back whilst the left wing-back position will be a cause of concern for Martinez.

Yannick Ferreira Carrasco often occupies the position but the winger’s defensive work can be questionable. He has moved from La Liga to the less challenging Chinese Super League which will not help his chances of starting in Russia. Lazio’s Jordan Lukaku is his main competitor for the role but he is a little suspect in possession and also not the strongest defensively.

That position may cause Belgium problems against England but the wing-backs are more likely to be needed offensively against Panama and Tunisia. The front three should have a fruitful time in those games. Hazard and Napoli’s Dries Mertens are likely to flank Lukaku and it will be difficult for teams to contain those three, especially with De Bruyne pulling the strings.

The group favourites are likely to be dominant in their opening two matches against the minnows. The final group match against England may be a high-scoring dead rubber as, due to the equal nature of Group H, there is no great advantage to finishing top of this group.

As a result, expect goals from Belgium. Romelu Lukaku is available at 19.380* to win the Golden Boot and may be a wise selection from what should be a high-scoring group.

Panama

Elo World Ranking: 48

Pinnacle World Cup Power Ranking: 32

Previous best performance: First World Cup

Top scorer in qualifying: Gabriel Torres, Román Torres (2 goals)

Key player: Román Torres

Odds to advance from group: 9.080*

Odds to win World Cup: 645.590*

Panama qualified automatically for this tournament, finishing ahead of Honduras and The USA in the final CONCACAF qualification round. This was a huge achievement for a nation that has never reached the finals before.

Defender Román Torres scored a vital late winner against Costa Rica to send the team to Russia. He is vital for Panama at both ends of the pitch, bagging two goals in qualifying and leading a defence which kept four clean sheets in ten matches.

They only scored nine goals in ten games in the weak North American qualifying region so will be unlikely to threaten strong defences. Their strike force is certainly experienced with a combined age of 66, but neither player has troubled the game’s elite leagues.

The Panama squad is valued at around the same level as an English League 2 (fourth tier) team and it is hard to argue they possess much more quality than that valuation would suggest. They will need their strong team chemistry and tactical plan to make up for their severely inferior personnel. They will have to perform at their very best to have a chance of winning as much as a point at the tournament.

A recent 6-0 friendly defeat to Switzerland demonstrated the difficulties Panama may face at World Cup level. It is one thing to frustrate the likes of Honduras and The USA but it will be more difficult to prevent players like Harry Kane and Eden Hazard from breaching their backline.

Panama should consider winning a point to be a successful tournament and their only reasonable opportunity to do so is against Tunisia. The North Africans may struggle to break down a team that sets up to defend against them. There is an outside chance Panama could strike from a set-piece or on the break.

In truth though, Tunisia still have talent that plays to a much higher standard than Panama’s team and are the likely winners of that game. As a result, the value play could be backing them to win under 1.5 points at 1.620*.

Tunisia

Elo World Ranking: 51

Pinnacle World Cup Power Ranking: 32

Previous best performance: Group stage (1978, 1998, 2002, 2006)

Top scorer in qualifying: Youssef Msakni (3 goals)

Key player: Wahbi Khazri

Odds to advance from group: 5.770*

Odds to win World Cup: 645.590*

Tunisia may be far superior to Panama but they are still outsiders in this group. They qualified for their first World Cup since 2006 by topping a, by CAF standards, fairly straightforward final qualification stage.

The Tunisians possess a well-organised defence with fullbacks that are encouraged to push forward and join the attack. This will be especially important against the defensive Panamanians, against whom Tunisia will need to provide the attacking impetus. Left-back Ali Maâloul, who plays for Egyptian giants Al Ahly, is an important figure in Tunisia’s general build-up play.

Two destroyers play in the deep-lying positions in their favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. The attacking midfielders, Khazri and Sliti, offer plenty of creativity and should be too much for Panama although Msakni's prescence will be missed in attack. England and Belgium would be wise not to take the Tunisian’s attacking threat lightly if Tunisia field Sliti and Khazri in advanced positions.

Tunisia have been unfortunate with their group draw and, despite possessing some underrated creative players, they are unlikely to advance ahead of the two European teams.

A final fixture against Panama offers Tunisia the chance to take some pride away from Russia and it is by no means impossible they cause an upset, with England particularly susceptible to being frustrated at tournament finals. Tunisia to score over 2.5 points in the group at 1.826* should be attractive to bettors aware of their superiority over Panama.

England

Elo World Ranking: 7

Pinnacle World Cup Power Ranking: 7

Previous best performance: Winners (1996)

Top scorer in qualifying: Harry Kane (5 goals)

Key player: Harry Kane

Odds to advance from group: 1.124*

Odds to win World Cup: 18.120*

England enter this tournament aiming to avoid a repeat of their 2014 group stage exit. The draw has been a lot kinder to the English this time, but Costa Rica’s unexpected performance in Brazil should be all the warning England not to take any of their opponents lightly.

This squad is improved from the 2014 World Cup in almost every key area. Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier have emerged as far better right-back options than Glen Johnson was in 2014. Danny Rose provides tremendous athleticism on the left whilst John Stones is the kind of composed ball playing defender England missed in Brazil.

Harry Kane is a genuinely World Class forward. If he is on his game the England team can trouble any defence. His supporting cast is strong with Raheem Sterling, Delli Alli and Jesse Lingard offering attacking options.

Manager Gareth Southgate has switched the team to a 3-5-2 formation in the past couple of rounds of friendlies, demonstrating tactical flexibility some of his predecessors have lacked. England’s personnel suits this formation with the industry of Trippier and Rose out wide covered by Walker’s pace in a new central defensive role.

Despite the improvements made since Brazil, England are still lacking in some areas. Goalkeeper is a clear issue with Joe Hart’s decline leaving a vacuum no one has yet managed to fill convincingly. The central midfield positions are also a concern.

In the new system the two holding midfielders need to influence the match and England have been lethargic in this area at times. They will need Jordan Henderson to bring the form he has shown throughout Liverpool’s Champions League run into the tournament. Eric Dier could play alongside the Liverpool captain.

England open the group against Tunisia in a game that they should win. They have started tournaments sluggishly before but must hit the ground running to avoid offering the Tunisians any hope of qualification. Anything other than a win in the game against Panama would be a much bigger shock than the loss to Iceland at Euro 2016s so qualification is to be expected

Despite their improvement England are still marginally inferior to Belgium in this group. They are more likely to drop points against Tunisia and the final game against the group favourites is likely to go the way of the Belgians. A bet on England not to win Group G at 1.763* could offer value, especially since Belgium should possess a better goal difference than the English.

Next: World Cup Group H preview

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