England vs Panama – Sunday 24 June, 13:00BST/14:00CEST/15:00 MSK –Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
England left it late to snatch all three points against Tunisia, whilst Panama were comprehensively beaten by Belgium in their first game. England vs Panama should see Gareth Southgate’s young lions roar past their weaker Central American opponents.
The World Cup hasn’t brought England many moments to savour, take out 1966 and their best adventure to date was 28 years ago in Italy – reaching the semi-finals of Italia 90 before eventually going out to Germany on penalties.
Time after time the England squad has been burdened by the weight of expectation, written off before they have even left their own shores is a common occurrence – this time however, there seems to be an understanding that a youthful squad just needs to show its worth on the world stage.
An opening day victory against Tunisia has positioned England into a situation that has been unfamiliar of late – an appearance at the knock out stage is in their own hands.
Despite standing on the edge of qualification, Southgate is determined to keep his players focused on their game plan, and not the next stage of the competition. Speaking at Saturday’s press conference the England head coach said:
“The important thing is that the players know our system, where the gaps are where we can exploit in the opposition’s system, where the threats will come from, and we will touch on individual things on a small level, if we think that’s a help to the specific players playing against them.”
Picked apart by Belgium, Panama now must try and contain an England side riddled with quality. Los Canaleros are making their debut at the World Cup, they didn’t enter prior to 1978 and Russia 2018 is their only appearance out of 10 qualification disappointments.
As such their players are trying to focus on the positives, even though defeat on Sunday will see the Central Americans eliminated. Midfielder, Edgar Barcenas gave insight into the Panama mindset for their first game:
“The stage fright of our historical debut and to be here (at the World Cup) was what made us nervous (against Belgium). We are clear that we have to enjoy it, because there is a lot more to win than to lose.”
Meanwhile, head coach Hernan Gomez is fully aware of the danger that awaits his side and the task in hand:
“It’s going to be a very difficult match. England are well organised, with an outstanding tactical style. They recover the ball and accelerate easily, they are accurate, they have got a lot of alternatives that make them the toughest team in the group.”
Panama will have their hands full in Nizhny Novgorod and it could just be that Matchday three offers them little but a consolation fixture against Tunisia.
England vs Panama- Players to look out for:
Harry Kane #9 – England (Tottenham Hotspur)
With a brace against Tunisia the England captain announced himself as a contender for the golden boot in what was his debut at the World Cup. If he was in the right place at the right time for his first, then his second showed just how much of a danger he is inside the box. Steering his header into the goal from an awkward angle, an indication of his calmness under pressure.
With Ronaldo having amassed four goals already, Kane will be hoping to match his tally in this fixture. The World Cup Golden Boot trophy very much resides at the top of his personal wish list whilst also hoping to fire his team to collective glory.
Román Torres #5 – Panama (Seattle Sounders)
Every debut country at a World Cup needs their hero, and in their 32-year-old centre back Panama have theirs.
Torres fired in their winner against Costa Rica in the dying moments of their final qualification game, whether he can keep a considerably younger forward line in check at a major tournament though remains to be seen.
England vs Panama – Match Stats
- This will be the first ever meeting between England and Panama.
- England are unbeaten in their last four World Cup games against CONCACAF nations.
- Harry Kane became the first England player to score a brace in a World Cup match since Gary Lineker against Cameroon in 1990.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: England vs Panama – 4-1
England vs Panama – Lineups
Pickford – Stones, Maguire, Walker – Trippier, Young, Lingard, Henderson, Sterling – Loftus-Cheek, Kane
Head Coach: Gareth Southgate
Penedo – Murillo, Torres, Escobar, Davis – Gómez – Bárcenas, Cooper, Godoy, Rodriguez – Perez
Head Coach: Hernan Gomez
Chris Williams is a freelance European football journalist. Primarily covering the Bundesliga, Premier League and both of UEFA’s European club competitions. Published in both local and international publications, he also contributes to television and radio across the globe. A member of the UK’s Sports Journalist Association and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). Follow Chris Williams on Twitter @Chris78Williams