England v Panama: No stroll for Three Lions

England boss Gareth Southgate
England may have to settle for a narrow win against Panama, says Dave
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Dave Tindall expects England to make it six points out of six at World Cup 2018 but Group G opponents Panama won't roll over lightly...

"Firstly, the nil part of that bet looks pretty rock solid given Panama's lack of forward ambition and England's record of keeping six clean sheets in their last nine games. Secondly, England haven't gone past the two goal mark during that run."

1pt England to win 2-0 at [5.7]

England v Panama
Sunday, 13:00
Live on BBC One

England in great position to get second win

In World Cup 2014, England suffered a 2-1 defeat to Italy in their opening game and then faced Luis Suarez and Uruguay. They lost again and it was tournament over.

By contrast, thanks to Harry Kane's late winner against Tunisia, they now head into a very, very winnable fixture against Panama and a golden chance to make it six points out of six.

That would give Gareth Southgate the luxury, if needed, to rotate his squad for the likely group decider against Belgium and, if England are in this for the long haul, having a fresh squad is all part of the magic formula.

Did we see enough in the 2-1 win to suggest that England fans may need to start planning for the quarter-finals and beyond?

In a World Cup where opening 45 minutes have often been fairly dire affairs, England played one of the brightest first halfs of the tournament against Tunisia, showing pace, movement and urgency.

That they needed Kane's late winner to grab the three points will have been a concern to Southgate though. You can't keep fluffing chances at this level and only Kane, who was actually disappointing in general build-up play, showed any killer instinct.

Will Southgate shuffle his pack? If the prying camera which zoomed in on assistant Steve Holland's team-sheet has revealed England's starting XI we'll see Ruben Loften-Cheek and Marcus Rashford come in for Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli.

The former pair both made an impact off the bench while Sterling's poor scoring record for England (just two goals) and Alli's compromised display in the second half against Tunisia due to injury suggest the camera may not be lying.

Proud Panama will defend stoutly but have little up front

When trying to assess Panama ahead of this World Cup, we needed to work out where they stood. Just getting to Russia and qualifying from the Concacaf section ahead of the USA (albeit with a negative goal difference) suggested a certain level of competence.

Losing a March friendly 6-0 to Switzerland did not.

But what we saw against Belgium was a team boasting team spirit and decent organisation. They kept the Belgians at arm's length for the first half and it took three real moments of quality from the Red Devils to turn a tight contest into a 3-0.

What we also saw was very little coming the other way. It will be no surprise if Panama go through this World Cup without scoring a goal.

Market suggests straightforward task but England could make backers sweat

England are just [1.25] to secure all three points while Panama are [22] to pull of a huge shock. The Draw is [6.2].

While Belgium's reputation for starting slowly represented a trading opportunity against Panama, the way England bolted out of the blocks suggests there's more chance of the early goal which would scupper such a strategy.

Correct Score market is where the best bets lie

I put up 1-0 and 2-0 wins for England against Tunisia and, while never being entirely sure how the match would have panned out had Kyle Walker's loose arm not given the North Africans a penalty, it certainly feels like we're in the right ball park with those scorelines when England play lesser opposition.

So I'll repeat them here and back England to win 1-0 at [6.2] and 2-0 at [5.7].

Firstly, the nil part of that bet looks pretty rock solid given Panama's lack of forward ambition and England's record of keeping six clean sheets in their last nine games.

Secondly, England haven't gone past the two-goal mark during that run. There were 1-0 wins over Slovenia, Lithuania and the Netherlands, a 2-0 success over Costa Rica and 2-1 victories over Tunisia and Nigeria. The draws were 1-1 with Italy and 0-0 against both Brazil and Germany.

Many will expect England to rack up three or four against such lowly opposition as Panama but goals have been hard to come by in this World Cup and 1-0 has been a popular scoreline.

If England do get 1-0 or 2-0 up, they shouldn't find it a difficult lead to hold so may be happy to keep things tight and stay in good shape for future assignments ahead.

Kane at the double

After his brace against Tunisia, Harry Kane is 3/1 (Sportsbook) to bank another double against Panama. Romelu Lukaka managed it against Panama and it's not the worst bet that Kane will too.

Prices on England's other likely scorers are cramped and, to be honest, I'd rather back Kane to score two than say Marcus Rashford [1.99], Raheem Sterling [2.6], Jesse Lingard [2.68] or Dele Alli [3.15] to score one.

Dave Tindall's World Cup P/L

Staked: 6pts
Returned: 12.4pts
P/L: +6.4pts

Key Opta Stats for England v Panama

England are unbeaten in their last four World Cup games against CONCACAF nations (W2 D2), drawing the last two against USA in 2010 and Costa Rica in 2014. Their only defeat came in 1950 against USA. The draw is [6.4].

Panama will be the 38th different nation England have faced at a World Cup – of the previous 37, they’ve only lost their first meeting against five; USA and Spain in 1950, Uruguay in 1954, Hungary in 1962 and Italy in 1990. England are [1.25] to win.

CONCACAF nations have only won one of their last 10 World Cup meetings against European sides (W1 D3 L6). England are [1.74] to win half-time/full-time.

In their opening match against Belgium, Panama suffered the biggest defeat in a World Cup debut match (0-3) since Ukraine vs Spain in 2006 (0-4). Over 2.5 goals is [1.98].

England haven’t won consecutive games at the World Cup since their opening two games of the 2006 tournament. Panama are [4.9] in the Double Chance market.

Only twice before have England won both of their opening two games to a World Cup campaign (1982 and 2006). The draw half-time/England full-time double result is [4.2].

Striker Harry Kane has scored in each of his last four appearances for England, his best ever run for the Three Lions. Kane is [1.62] to score.

In their opening match against Tunisia, Harry Kane became the first England player to score a brace in a World Cup match since Gary Lineker against Cameroon in 1990. Kane is [4.0] to score two or more goals.

Harry Kane has scored both of England’s goals so far at World Cup 2018. The last England player to score more goals in the group stages of a World Cup tournament was Gary Lineker in 1986 (3). Kane is [3.1] to score the first goal.

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