World Cup 2018 Preview – Groups G & H

Group G

The Teams

 Belgium (FIFA Rank: 3rd, 7-1-0 in last year)
 Panama (FIFA Rank: 55th, 5-2-6 in last year)
 Tunisia (FIFA Rank: 21st, 4-4-1 in last year)
 England (FIFA Rank: 12th, 7-1-0 in last year)

The Schedule (All times Eastern)

Belgium vs Panama – 11 AM on 6/18, FS1
Tunisia vs England – 2 PM on 6/18, FS1
Belgium vs Tunisia – 8 AM on 6/23, Fox
England vs Panama – 8 AM on 6/24, FS1
Panama vs Tunisia – 2 PM on 6/28, TBD (Fox/FS1)
England vs Belgium – 2 PM on 6/28, TBD (Fox/FS1)

Preview/Picks

This group is a two-team race for first between the two European sides here, any other result would be a major shock to me. Tunisia forward Youssef Msakni is out with an injury, and while Panama making it out of the group stage in their first ever World Cup appearance would be a great story, I just don’t see it as a realistic possibility. That means the main match to watch in this group will take place on the final matchday, June 28th, as England and Belgium square off to see who will get a better draw in the knockout stage. Both are 7-1-0 in the past year, and the two sides have faced off just once this century, a 1-0 English win in a friendly back in 2012. This should be one of the best matches of the entire group stage, doubly important because it takes place on the final matchday of the group stage. I ended up taking a draw in that match and picked Belgium to win the group on goal difference because of the veteran leadership on the side of The Red Devils, but this group really could go either way.

 Belgium – 7 points
 England – 7 points
 Tunisia – 3 points
 Panama – 0 points

Group H

The Teams

 Poland (FIFA Rank: 8th, 5-1-2 in last year)
 Senegal (FIFA Rank: 27th, 6-6-2 in last year)
 Colombia (FIFA Rank: 16th, 1-5-1 in last year)
 Japan (FIFA Rank: 61st, 4-1-5 in last year)

The Schedule (All times Eastern)

Colombia vs Japan – 8 AM on 6/19, FS1
Poland vs Senegal – 11 AM on 6/19, Fox
Japan vs Senegal – 11 AM on 6/24, Fox
Poland vs Colombia – 2 PM on 6/24, Fox
Japan vs Poland – 10 AM on 6/28, TBD (Fox or FS1)
Colombia vs Senegal – 10AM on 6/28, TBD (Fox or FS1)

Preview/Picks

The final group in this preview is also one of the most cloudy to predict. Poland, Senegal, and Colombia have combined for just five losses in their combined 29 matches over the past year, and while Japan does not seem likely to advance, their quick style of play should make these games that much more fun to watch. Robert Lewandowski (Poland) had the most goals of anyone in world cup qualifying, netting 16 over the long UEFA process. Any of these top three could win the group, but Senegal vs Colombia on the final matchday will probably be the most pivotal match in the group with a potential winner advances scenario unfolding. Senegal has only been in the world cup once, a 2002 run to the quarterfinals, and I think they pull off that magic again and shock the world by advancing through to the knockout stage again.

 Poland – 6 points
 Senegal – 6 points
 Colombia – 6 points
 Japan – 0 points

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