World Cup 2018 – The Fans’ Preview: Group G

World Cup 2018 is going to be here very soon, the biggest sporting event on earth and i think its time for a quick overall view of of the teams in the competition. We will post some analysis to share with you and lets get a few of the microwave pop corn ready, clean your sofa and stock up your fridge and do the count down!!!

And now to England and Group G.

Expectations are at an all-time low for Three Lions fans but, come June 18 and their Group G opener with Tunisia, that infectious hope will have snuck back into the corners of minds all around the country.

Belgium, backed by one of the strongest squads at the finals, don’t need to twist logic too far to justify their ambitions and will view only the semi-finals as par. Meanwhile, Tunisia – the top ranked African side at the tournament – and first timers Panama will be hoping to take advantage of the two European giants’ penchant for being on the wrong side of a giant killing.

Here’s what the fans think…

1. Belgium

Name: Davy Diamant

Best moment during qualification: The moment Jan Vertonghen broke the record for most caps with his 97th outings as a Belgium player in the 4-0 win over Cyprus was powerful. Love that player!

Proudest moment ever as a Belgium fan: Romelu Lukaku’s goal against USA at the 2014 World Cup to qualify for the quarter-final. The last 16 game against Brazil in 2002 was also a great memory and my first as a Belgium fan.

Worst moment ever as a Belgium fan: The loss against Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. I actually travelled there to be in the stands. It was awful and so disappointing to lose this game as we were clear favourites.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: Leander Dendoncker [Anderlecht midfielder/defender]. He won’t be a starter but might get a chance to come on as a centre back or defensive midfielder. Also, if Michy Batshuayi makes the final cut, he will be a great super sub!

Which group game are you most nervous about: The game against England will be difficult. It will be a good test for the rest of the competition.

Realistically how far will Belgium go: Semi-finals.

2. England

Name: Lawrence Bury @lawrence_bury

Best moment during qualification: I was lucky enough to attend Scotland vs England in person, and unlucky enough to be accidentally seated in the home section as Leigh Griffiths banged in a long range stunner at Hampden Park. Fortunately Harry Kane managed to poke in a last-minute equaliser to silence the Scotland fans and beautifully dismantle their qualification dream.

Worst moment ever as an England fan: The 2006 World Cup. We had the squad to go on and win that tournament, with four or five world class players and a manager who wasn’t overly reckless. However, a stubborn Portugal side managed to ease out of us the uncertainty and nerves which have wrecked England for decades. One petulant Rooney and some poor penalties later and we were out.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: Ruben Loftus-Cheek could be a super star. He’s strong, quick and can find a goal. If injuries stack up, he could add the energy to the midfield that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain surely would have brought before he got injured.

Team other than your own to watch this summer: Argentina, as much as they are our rivals. I want Messi to win a World Cup and finally be known universally as the best player ever.

Which group game are you most nervous about: Panama. It’s the sort of game where we can’t afford to drop silly points (the sort of points which Tunisia could capitalise on), if they want to sneak second place. Belgium is obviously a harder game, as was Wales in our Euro 2016 group, but we managed to raise ourselves for it. Playing big teams when the stakes are slightly less important than in knockout football seems to work for England.

Realistically how far will England go: Semi-finals, if our key players click. If Leicester can win the Premier League, then England, with the correct tactics and some of our star players shining, can reach a semi.

3. Tunisia

Name: Lotfi Wada @LotfiWada

Best moment during qualification: The comeback against DR Congo in front of 100,000 fans in Kinshasa after being 2-0 down. A turning point during the qualifiers.

Proudest moment ever as a Tunisia fan: The Africa Cup of Nations title in 2004.

Worst moment ever as a Tunisia fan: The catastrophe of Maputo during the 2010 World Cup qualifiers when Tunisia, needing only one point to qualify, lost in the last match away to Mozambique in the last minutes of the game. So painful that I’ve not rewatched this game!

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: Al Ahly Jeddah midfielder Mohamed Amin Ben Amor. A dynamic player full of class, with an eye for a goal too.

One player that made the Tunisia squad but shouldn’t have in your opinion: Yohan Benalouane, who refused many call-ups previously for weird reasons and has now accepted to play for Tunisia because the World Cup looms.

Which group game are you most nervous about: The opening game against England, as it’ll determine 90% of the rest of our tournament.

Realistically how far will Tunisia go: Logically our campaign should end in the group stages. England and Belgium have much better players than us.

4. Panama

Name: Mike Rosenthal

Proudest moment ever as a Panama fan: Roman Torres’ goal that took us to our first ever World Cup finals. This moment will be remembered by Panamanians forever.

Worst moment ever as a Panama fan: Our last ‘hexagonal’ [final round of qualification in CONCACAF] before World Cup 2014. USA scored a goal that left us out of the finals. We were so close but yet so far.

Player to watch that other fans might not be aware of: Ismael Díaz [Deportivo B winger]. Panama is clearly an underdog in this tournament but who knows, maybe we can do what Costa Rica did in Brazil four years ago.

Team other than your own to watch this summer: Belgium, they could make it to the final or semi-finals. The quality of the current Belgian squad is without doubt one of the best on the planet.

Which group game are you most nervous about: Definitely Belgium. If Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku have a good day, forget about it.

Realistically how far will Panama go: Group stage. I will be very happy if we are able to get one point.

 

 

 

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