World Cup Preview – Group G | Belgium v Panama – Tunisia v England

The waiting is over come Monday evening, as England get their World Cup campaign underway as they face Tunisia.

England boss Gareth Southgate admits he is still pinching himself, having walked into the role vacated by Sam Allardyce, who left after just one match in charge.

“As the manager I’m hugely excited and hugely proud,” said Southgate. “But I’m not a tourist. I’m not here just to enjoy it.

“I am enjoying it and I’m going to enjoy it but I’m here to develop the team and do my job for everyone at home.

“I can’t just be puffing like a peacock in front of the mirror looking at the Three Lions.”

Tunisia provide the opposition in the opener in Volgograd and coach Nabil Maaloul is confident of success in Russia.

“We wanted to build up to a peak for the England game and I feel we’ve done that,” said Maaloul.

“I think we can make a good impact on this tournament.”

The other match sees Roberto Martinez’s Belgium take on World Cup new boys Panama, and the Spaniard insists they will be going for it from the off.

“Failure is not trying to win,” he said. “We’re going to be adventurous and brave. We’re going to try and win every game. But the feelings you develop in the three group games are essential.”

Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez is looking for his side to make their mark.

“The team is well-balanced, and I like to make sure we are very organised. We also work a lot tactically and we are a very compact squad,” said Gomez.

“My aim for the World Cup is to dignify Panamanian football. I want us to show our own identity of play.”

See below for a preview on the games, including predictions from former England and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray and our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and bet365’s Steve Freeth.

Belgium 16:00 Panama
Fisht Stadium, Sochi
Live on BBC


Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Jan Vertonghen, Dedryck Boyata, Toby Alderweireld; Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Thomas Meunier; Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard; Romelu Lukaku

Panama: Jaime Penedo; Roman Torres, Fidel Escobar, Eric Davis, Michael Murillo; Gabriel Gomez, Anibal Godoy, Armando Cooper, Edgar Barcenas, Jose Luis Rodriguez; Blas Perez

KEY FACT: This will be Panama’s first game at a World Cup finals 
Match odds from bet365: BELGIUM 2/11 DRAW 13/2 BELGIUM 20/1
bet365 Pick: Belgium to win 2-0 @9/2
ANDY SAYS: Belgium are going to win this, I have not doubt but won’t be a huge score…2-0
GRAEME SAYS: I think Belgium are one the teams to watch here and they will start with a good win…3-0
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Eden Hazard – One of the top-players and he needs to prove that in Russia

Tunisia 19:00 England
Volgograd Arena, Volgograd
Live on BBC

KEY FACT: This is the second World Cup meeting between Tunisia and England, 20 years and three days after the Three Lions claimed a 2-0 win in Marseille at France 1998 
Match odds from bet365: TUNISIA 17/2 DRAW 19/5 ENGLAND 2/5
bet365 Pick: Draw/England @13/5
ANDY SAYS: I fancy England strongly in this opener, easy win…0-3
GRAEME SAYS: I think England will win, not sure how convincing it will be through…0-2
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Harry Kane – Is he England’s best player? what better stage to prove it

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