This group boasts two very strong teams on paper and two teams who can struggle a bit. But the reality is that despite having an incredible squad full of talented players, Belgium and England have not really set the international stage alight with their performances or results. And they tend to struggle more when they are expected to win handsomely, which is exactly what is going to happen with this group. Panama and Tunisia will try and make it as hard as possible and one bad result against a supposedly weak team could well derail the already fragile confidence of the England and Belgium.
The ‘Red Devils’ go into the competition as one of the favorites, a tag they don’t seem to handle too well. True they had a strong qualifying campaign scoring lots of goals and dominating teams but this will be a different challenge. The superstars of the team have to start working together as a team in order to fulfill the tremendous potential the squad has.
History- Runners-up in 1980.
Qualification Form- Won 9, drew 1, lost 0. The leader of their qualifying group.
Watch out for: Romelu Lukaku- Lukaku will be the most important player for Belgium in the tournament and if he can finish those chances the way he did for Manchester United this season, Belgium may start to feel that the World Cup dream is not that far.
Now, this has been a bit of a trend in the past few editions of the Cup. Ever since England’s highly successful World Cup campaign in 1990 World Cup, the team has failed to deliver even with highly talented squads at their disposal. In almost every World Cup, they are billed as the dark horses, but the real question is can they finally deliver?
The problem for the England team in a few recent international competitions has been creating and converting their chances. With Harry Kane scoring goals for fun for Tottenham, finishing chances will not be a problem. They can even call upon the services of Jamie Vardy or Marcus Rashford if needed. Much of the creative responsibility will lie on Raheem Sterling, Delle Alli, and Adam Lallana with Jordan Henderson providing a cover for a solid defense. With attack-minded full-backs on both sides and a young talented goalkeeper in Jack Butland, this well-balanced England side could well achieve what their talented predecessors couldn’t- realize their potential in the World Cup.
History- Won the 1966 World Cup.
Current Form- Topped their qualifying group. Won 8 drew 2 lost 0.
Watch out for: Harry Kane- The new England captain will be looking to lead his team to glory in Russia. The talismanic striker has been enjoying an amazing consistency in terms of goal-scoring for the past three seasons and is undoubtedly one of the most potent strikers in World football right now. Give him an inch and Kane will score!
In what promises to be a huge learning experience for them, Panama head towards their inaugural World Cup on the back of some impressive results and an unparalleled team unity. The side suffered heartbreak in qualification in 2014 and managed to do that in 2018 showing incredible determination and team spirit embodied when one of their players was shot dead during their qualification campaign and they still managed to qualify for the tournament. Panama will be happy just to be one of the best 32 teams around the world to play in this prestigious tournament and compete against the best.
History- Participated in qualifiers since 1978. Qualified for the first time.
Qualification Form- Won 3 drew 4 lost 3.
Watch out for: Roman Torres- The leader and the defensive colossus of the team, Roman is the reason why Panama is playing in the World Cup as he was the one who scored the late winner against Costa Rica to send his nation through to the playoffs.
Back in the World Cup after a 12-year hiatus, Tunisia will be positive heading into the FIFA World Cup after what was an impressive qualifying campaign. Their midfield is their strength and the talented Youssef Msakni, who plays in Qatar with Al-Duhail, is a tremendous talent and often carries the team. The system changes from 4-2-3-1 to a defensive 4-3-2-1 when they play against attacking teams and that is most probably the system they will play at this World Cup.
History- 9th in 1978.
Qualification Form- Won 4 drew 2 lost 0 as they topped their qualification group.
Watch out for: Youssef Msakni- This talented player has a lot to offer; speed, agility and passing ability and will be looking to prove his abilities at the biggest stage of them all. We wait to see how he goes about it.