Belgium v Panama, Tuesday, June 19, 1am (AEST), Sochi
Tunisia v England, Tuesday, June 19, 4am (AEST), Tunisia
Belgium vs Tunisia, Saturday, June 23, 10pm (AEST), Moscow (Spartak)
England vs Panama, Sunday, June 24, 10pm (AEST), Nizhny Novgorod
England vs Belgium, Friday, June 29, 4am (AEST), Kaliningrad
Panama vs Tunisia, Friday, June 29, 4am (AEST), Saransk
Group Odds Summary
Three Lions fans will be hoping that works in their favour here and releases the pressure.
Only Belgium should cause them problems and they are to top this group.
The Red Devils have an incredible amount of talent in their ranks but there are serious question marks over their cohesion as a team, as well as the competence of their manager.
A team containing Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Toby Alderweireld among others, always has a chance and they areto win the group.Panama made it to this summer’s tournament by the skin of their teeth, ousting Honduras on goal difference.
It’s the first time they have appeared at the World Cup and they have a lot of older players at their core and it’s easy to see why they areto finish bottom.
This will be Tunisia’s fifth venture to the summer showpiece and they have won just one game in their previous four outings.
However, they were unbeaten in qualifying and conceded just four goals.
They may be a tough nut to crack but qualification () would be a major surprise.
After that, the quality in the squad makes them a real contender.
Preparations have been perfect.
After a defeat to Spain in Roberto Martinez’s first game, Belgium went undefeated in the qualifying matches, scoring 43 goals; a record.
Given his current form and pedigree, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne (pictured above) is set to be the man that pulls the strings in Belgium’s midfield.
Alternative odds: Belgium to make the semis ().
For Panama’s golden generation; this is the appropriate ending to their international careers, but for the ones that will have the torch handed over to them, this is the moment where they begin to write their own history and raise their own bar.
The World Cup will be a great challenge, but also a learning experience.
The big question for Los Canaleros (The Canal Boys) will be if the experiences they learn and grow from will be positive or negative.
That is the question only they can answer.
They could, but it seems very unlikely.
The core of five Tottenham players, augmented by three from Manchester City, though, at least offers a basis, and, if Gareth Southgate can get the defence right, England have enough pace on the break and enough quality in Harry Kane (pictured at top) to trouble the best.
A place in the quarter-finals, though, feels about the limit of their realistic ambitions.
Qualification was characterised by the usual grumbling, but the fact is that England lave gone 39 qualifiers unbeaten.
Some of them have been uninspiring but breaking down massed defences can be difficult.
Of more concern is poor results in friendlies against bigger sides.
For England, it’s all about Harry Kane.
He has gone from strength-to-strength with Tottenham and has impressed in the Champions League this season.
He could be the spark that fires something special but if he looks as weary as he did at the Euros, England are doomed.
Best bet: England to make the quarter-finals ().
It may have gone down to the last day but Tunisia’s qualification was ultimately deserved.
Things may not have gone according to the script at Sunderland for Wahbi Khazri (pictured above), but he remains one of the pillars of the side going into the World Cup finals and he’s a different player in a national shirt.
This group looks a big ask but they shouldn’t be easily dismissed.