2018 World Cup Group G Preview
Group G appears a straightforward ticket for Belgium and England to progress with the rest of the teams like Tunisia and Panama. The battle for top spot will be decided in the match between the Belgium and England.
Tunisia qualified their fifth World Cup without losing a match. But they have never progressed past the group stage at every World Cup and won just one game in total 12 games. Managed by Nabil Maaloul since 2017, not much is expected due to lack of quality required to get past Belgium and England.
Attacker Wahbi Khazri is set to be a key player for Tunisia followed by defenders Ali Maâloul, Aymen Abdennour and goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi. Star player Youssef Msakni suffered a cruciate ligament injury which rules him out of the World Cup. Msakni was Tunisia’s top scorer in the qualification stage.
With difficult games against England and Belgium, they could be playing for pride in the game against Panama.
Belgium have a ‘golden generation’ for some years now but still unable to fulfill anything. Previous manager Marc Wilmots didn’t possess the tactical ability and skills to get the best out of the talented squad consists of Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Radja Nainggolan, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku.
Spanish manager Roberto Martínez has been in charge since August 2016 with Thierry Henry acting as his assistant. The Belgian qualified for their 13th World Cup after winning 9 out of their 10 qualification matches, scoring 43 goals.
The burden is now on Martínez to get the squad to play to their full ability. It feels like we have been here before as much was expected in Brazil 2014 and France 2016 where they were highly fancied only to disappoint in the quarter-finals. Belgium will ease into the World Cup with games against Panama and Tunisia before a real test against England to decide who wins Group G.
Many was surprise that Panama qualified for their first World Cup 2018
, finishing one point ahead of the United States. Winning just three of their 10 games, Panama finished above Honduras on goal difference to avoid a play-off against Australia
, a remarkable fairy-tale story with a national holiday called throughout the country to celebrate.
Managed by Colombian Hernán Gómez since 2014, not much is expected from them. Gómez’ managerial career is underwhelming to say the least and his squad lacks the quality to compete against Belgium and England. Key players are likely to include Román Torres, Armando Cooper, Alberto Quintero, Gabriel Gómez, Aníbal Godoy and Gabriel Torres.
Most of the players that secured qualification are over 30 years of age so it will be interesting to see if Gómez uses the World Cup to bring through some younger players such as Ricardo Avila. Panama have no chance in Group G and may be the thrashing target by Belgium and England.
England had no difficulty qualifying for their 15th World Cup, winning eight out of their 10 games and conceding just three goals. Gareth Southgate have managed this team since 2016, he will be confident of guiding England out of an easy group after the disappointment of Brazil 2014 where England failed to win a game.
As usual with England there is an abundance of talent but Gareth Southgate doesn’t seem to know who is the player to form the best team, particularly in regards to the goalkeeper and central defensive positions. Harry Kane will be a key player after emerging as one of the best strikers in football, while there are a group of talented players such as Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli, John Stones, Eric Dier, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Marcus Rashford.
The pieces are in place for a strong showing in Russia with winnable games against Tunisia and Panama before a game against Belgium likely to decide the winner of Group G. England’s uncertainty in defence and mental fragility could drag them down, but they will be exciting to watch.
Belgium and England are the only two nations to fight for the top spot and may consider Tunisia and Panama don’t have the quality to challenge. Belgium have a better squad and are more settled.
Group G Winner : England at 2.25