Date: 24 June, 2018
Time: 15:30 UTC, 5:30 PM IST
Venue: Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
TV Broadcast: Sony Network
Live Streaming: Sony Liv
In a weird turn of events where England assistant coach Steve Holland was pictured with a piece of paper which mentioned training drills with Loftus-Cheek and Marcus Rashford instead of Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling hinting the later would be dropped in their second group-match, head coach Gareth Southgate lashed out at the English media questioning them if they wanted to help the team or otherwise by leaking the line-up.
Having qualified for the World Cup on the final matchday of CONCACAF qualifiers by defeating Costa-Rica 2-1, the Central-American province is playing it’s first World Cup finals and is currently ranked 55th on the FIFA team rankings. Given they’re new to the tournament, they are equally a threat as most of the teams have not faced them yet and as for their minnow-status, playing without much pressure may just do the trick. Their first match against Belgium ended in a 3-0 defeat but as they’ll be determined to snatch points from England as it may very well be their last shot.
England: Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire; Kieran Trippier, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young; Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane
Panama: Jaime Penedo; Roman Torres, Fidel Escobar, Michael Murillo, Eric Davis; Gabriel Gomez, Anibal Godoy, Armando Cooper, Edgar Barcenas, Jose Luis Rodriguez; Blas Perez
Injury list and suspensions:
England: Dele Alli
Head to Head:
This is the first ever meeting between the two nations, competitive or otherwise.
In a recent press conference, Southgate spoke on Alli’s injury situation, “This morning he followed the exact programme we had planned. He started training with the rest of the group and then did some more running on his own, so he’s progressing really well.
“We’re really pleased with where he is at, but he wouldn’t be ready for the game tomorrow.”
On the team line-up leak issue, he said, “I think it’s huge,” said Southgate. “More than anything I think for the guys who aren’t in the team tomorrow or who haven’t been in the team for either game.
“I’ve fulfilled that role and know how difficult it is.
“We’ve got some young lads for who it’s no doubt going to be just as challenging, in a different way, as it is to the senior lads who are used to playing.
“But I’ve got to say we’ve got some brilliant top professionals who are coping really well with that, both in their approach to training and in the conversations they have around the team.
“But there’s no doubt the further we go in the tournament the more carefully that dynamic needs to be handled by myself and the staff. And I think it’s key to teams doing well at tournaments.”
Team head coach Hernan Dario Gomez said that England’s leaked line-up will be of no use as the squad is equally talented on every sphere. “If one doesn’t play the other is just as good.”
“It doesn’t give me or afford me any advantage.”
The Panama boss further said that he would field an unchanged side. “The line-up will be exactly the same. I liked how my team worked [against Belgium],” said the 62-year-old Colombian, who is managing at a third World Cup.
“The team that starts the match is the one with the most experience, that’s one of our assets. As a starting XI we are very organised and tactical.”
Gomez said England will be “a tough nut to crack” but insisted Panama – who are playing at their first World Cup – can still progress to the knockout rounds.
“England are going to be our hardest match by far,” he added.
“They don’t have a lot of individual stars like Belgium and [Eden] Hazard, but they work well as a team, especially on ball recovery.
“We could lose 3-0 again, or even worse – but mathematically we still have the possibility to progress.
“I told my players today that they can still qualify.”