World Cup Preview: England v Panama

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 21: Kieran Trippier, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane in action during the England training session on June 21, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

At 12pm (GMT) on Sunday the 24th of June, England will play Panama in the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. Following the first round of matches, England will hope for even better performances from Marcus Rashford, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Harry Kane. Panama will rely heavily on Román Torres and Gabriel Gómez in defence and winger Édgar Bárcenas in attack.

England v Panama

England’s Attack

In their match against Tunisia, England started with numerous passes across the Tunisia penalty area. Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling, in particular, were guilty of not finishing these chances. In truth, England should have thrashed Tunisia with three goals within the opening quarter of the match. Instead, Harry Kane rescued his team with a goal in each half.

Panama will be hopeful that England will send too many players forward while attacking. When England lose possession, Panama’s midfielders won’t be afraid to collect the ball under pressure and pass aerially into open space. If these passes are successful, England can be exposed, particularly in the wing-back positions.

Panama’s Defence

In their match against Belgium, Panama showcased a solid defence until halftime. Defenders Román Torres and Gabriel Gómez gave Romelu Lukaku no space to play. In fact, it took a moment of genius from Dries Mertens to open up Panama’s defence.

Of course, England have special players capable of unlocking this defence as well. Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Dele Alli, and Jamie Vardy all represent ferocious attacking threats. In particular, England fans will surely demand more from Alli and hope that Vardy at least makes an appearance off the bench.

Rashford and Loftus-Cheek

When England struggled to break down Tunisia in the second half of their opening match, substitutes Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek changed everything. Rashford toyed with Tunisia’s defenders by feinting left and right, drifting into pockets of space, and sprinting to the byline. Loftus-Cheek made driving runs into opposition territory and found a pass across the face of Tunisia’s penalty area.

These players bring energy and determination in abundance. If selected, Rashford and Loftus-Cheek will likely drag opposition defenders out of position with their clever movement, which will allow Harry Kane to enjoy the match. That is, he will find space and not need to engage in a battle with Panama’s physically strong defenders.

Brilliant Bárcenas

Panama’s Édgar Bárcenas often relieved pressure for his team against Belgium. When the ball was sprayed into the channels, Bárcenas brought the ball under control. He even won his side a few corner kicks.

Depending on who starts, England’s Ashley Young or Danny Rose will need to support their nearest centre-back and contain Bárcenas when Panama have possession. Ideally, England’s defenders will limit Panama’s set-pieces, which the Central American side will play for.

Prediction

Panama will try to frustrate England for long periods of the match. Still, England will most likely edge this match.

Main Photo

 

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