World Cup 2018 Group F and G Gameweek One Preview

Monday Group F continues and Group G kick-offs, with Belgium and England kicking off their campaigns. Here are the games taking place on a busy day of football:

Sweden v South Korea (Kick-off 1 PM)

Sweden returns to the World Cup after a 12-year absence from the world’s biggest international tournament. The Scandinavian nation pulled-off a famous 1-0 aggregate play-off victory over Italy.

The Swedes biggest achievement is finishing third in 1950 and 1994. Janne Andersson’s team seem unlikely to match that achievement in Russia, although they will see making the knockout stages as a realistic aim.

The Scandinavian side has failed to win any of their four international games prior to Russia 2018. This clash gives them a chance to put that right.

South Korea will be appearing at their ninth consecutive World Cup in Russia. The Asian nation’s biggest achievement remains finishing fourth on home soil back in 2002.

Sin Tae-Young’s side made heavy weather of qualifying and are seen as the weakest team in a group full of highly experienced teams. The Koreans warm-up matches did little to raise spirits, as they suffered four defeats in their last six international games.

Prediction

Sweden win and under 2.5 goals

Belgium v Panama (Kick-off 4 PM)

Belgium have a highly talented squad of players, but the Red Devils have struggled to live up to expectations at major tournaments.

However, Roberto Martinez’s team were in good form in qualifying, winning nine of their ten qualifiers ahead of Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Red Devils were also top scorers in European qualifiers alongside Germany with 43 goals.

Martinez’s side are unbeaten in 19 international games, with their last defeat coming back in October 2016 when they suffered a friendly defeat against Spain. The Red Devils are big favourites to win this game and the group.

Panama will make history this summer in Russia by making their first ever World Cup appearance. The minnows qualified from the CONCACAF section ahead of continent giants the USA.

The Central American team are underdogs in the group to make it to the knockout stages of the competition. However, they will be keen to put in good displays in Russia against more experienced opponents.

Hernan Dario Gomez’s side has not exactly enjoyed the best form in recent friendlies, as they have won just one of their last seven international games. They have also failed to score four of their last five outings.

Prediction

Belgium win and over 2.5

Tunisia v England (Kick-off 7 PM)

Tunisia have missed out on the last two World Cups but will be making a fifth finals appearance this summer. The North African side built their qualification on a solid defence, conceding four times in their last six qualifying games.

The fact that Nabil Maaloul’s side has suffered just one defeat in their last ten international outings suggests they are very hard to beat.

England rather coasted to qualification, winning eight of their ten matches in a group containing the likes of Scotland and Slovenia.

The expectations of England have been tempered by poor performances in recent international tournaments. Boss Gareth Southgate has brought calm and a new sense of belief to the team who exited Euro 2016 with a humiliating defeat against Iceland.

Southgate’s team heads to Russia on the back of a ten-match unbeaten run in international football. They picked up decent draws against Brazil, Germany and Italy, as well as beating the Netherlands in recent friendly internationals.

England have participated in the last five World Cups, with quarter-final appearances in 2002 and 2006 their best appearances in those five appearances.

Prediction

England win and under 2.5 goals

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