Our World Cup group stage preview turns to Group G, featuring England and Belgium who have both taken Liverpool players to Russia.
On first glance this is a walk in the park for the European teams, but don’t be surprised to see England and Belgium meet in the last group fixture having both already dropped points.
Tunisia are a formidable side in some respects: tough to break down and already with confidence-boosting results against European opposition in recent months.
Finally, Panama will give it everything at their first-ever appearance at the World Cup finals, and are an intense, battling side to play against.
Fixtures & UK TV Info
- Belgium vs. Panama – Fisht Olympic Stadium – 4pm, June 18 – BBC One
- Tunisia vs. England – Volgograd Arena – 7pm, June 18 – BBC One
- Belgium vs. Tunisia – Spartak Stadium – 1pm, June 23 – BBC One
- England vs. Panama – Nizhny Novgorod Stadium – 1pm, June 24 – BBC One
- England vs. Belgium – Kaliningrad Stadium – 7pm, June 28 – ITV 1
- Panama vs. Tunisia – Mordovia Arena – 7pm, June 28 – ITV 4
- Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson in for England
- Simon Mignolet is Belgium’s second-choice goalkeeper
- Two England stoppers have been linked with the Reds
- Raheem Sterling is the ex-Red on show
- Neither Christian Benteke nor Divock Origi made the Belgium squad
Henderson might have been hoping to captain England at Russia 2018, but he’ll instead be battling for a starting role.
It could be a straight fight between himself and Eric Dier for the holding midfield role, at least until the third game of the group stage.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is brilliant. This has been an utterly amazing campaign for him.
If he doesn’t start off the tournament as England’s right wing-back, we’re willing to bet an awful lot that he is by the time they wave goodbye to Russia.
The Reds have been linked heavily with both Jack Butland and Nick Pope, though both are likely to be just like Mignolet: watching from the sides at another No. 1.
Ones to Watch
Whether you’re a Liverpool fan or not, Trent is one to watch. His emergence is as impressive as his composure on the ball, his set-pieces or his level-headedness.
Further afield, Belgium could do with Dries Mertens rediscovering form—he usually plays as one of two behind a striker for the Red Devils, alongside Eden Hazard. Together, they can cause havoc.
Panama have a goalkeeper in Jaime Penedo who is capable of heroics; shot-stopping and bravery rank high in his attributes, while decision-making and claiming set-pieces…well, they do not.
It might also be worth listening out for a commentator highlighting “promising Belgian centre-back Dedryck Boyata,” who used to play for Man City. He’s now 27.
Who Goes Through?
Genuinely a tougher pick than many will assume, but England and Belgium—in no particular order—should both be looking to progress.
All four nations can pick up at least one point in this group, and a fast start from the favourites against Tunisia in particular is imperative.