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World Cup Free Pick: Panama vs England

Scott Morris | June 23, 2018

On Sunday, England will play Panama in a World Cup Group G second round fixture. England won its first round match by defeating Tunisia 2-1 and is expected to beat Panama as well. Panama was defeated in its first round match 3-0 by Belgium.

England is currently 1 to 5 to win, while Panama is 16 to 1 and a draw is 5 to 1. The over/under is 2.5.

England is likely to play without midfielder Dele Alli who injured his thigh in the first round match against Tunisia. Ruben Loftus-Cheek will likely take Alli’s place. Sports writers and fans alike are calling for England to start youngster Marcus Rashford up front ahead of Raheem Sterling. For the Panamanians, there are no issues with injuries heading into this fixture.

England appeared to be in control of its first match following an opening goal by Harry Kane, but allowed Tunisia back in the match by gifting them a penalty. England then struggled trying to break down the physical defense for the Tunisians. They succeeded during stoppage time as Kane scored his second of the match to send England fans into a wild celebration.

Panama was able to hold off the Belgium side for the first 45 minutes of their first match. However, following intermission Dries Mertens scored Belgium’s first goal with an excellent volley and that was followed by a brace by Romelu Lukaku on assists from Kevin De Bruyne for his first and Eden Hazard for his second of the match.

Panama had problems with Belgium’s size up front in Lukaku and De Bruyne and should face problems similar to that with England’s players.

This is the first ever match between the two sides. England are unbeaten in their most recent four matches in the World Cup versus CONCACAF opponents with two wins and two draws; with the last two being draws in 2010 against the U.S. and in 2014 against Costa Rica. The only defeat they have ever had against a CONCACAF opponent was to the U.S. in 1950.

CONCACAF countries have won just one of their last 10 meetings in the World Cup against sides from Europe. In those 10 matches CONCACAF countries have one win, three draws and six losses with the only win being Mexico’s defeat of Germany last week in the opening round of group matches.

Prediction: England on paper is far superior to Panama but will need time to find spots and break down the Panama defense. Look for goals to come in the second half and England to prevail 2-0.

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