Top spot in Group G looks set to be disputed by two teams boasting gifted generations of talent. Belgium and England will both be calling on an impressive pool of players as they each target first place – and that could make life difficult for debutants Panama and a Tunisia side no doubt hoping for a kinder draw after qualifying for the first time in 12 years.
Belgium-England (28 June 2018, Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad)
Belgium have been tipped for greatness for several years now, with the Red Devils possessing blistering potential in a superb crop of players. Their golden generation is not getting any younger, however, and their fans will be hoping they can hit their promised heights at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – providing they do not stumble against a rejuvenated England team which has posted impressive results and earned widespread praise. Both teams are outside contenders for the title, and they are sure to serve up an engaging spectacle, particularly as many of Belgium's key players are based in the English Premier League.
What you need to know
- Panama will be taking their maiden steps at a World Cup, becoming the first newcomers to qualify from CONCACAF since Trinidad and Tobago in 2006. The Soca Warriors left a positive impression in Germany, despite being knocked out in the group stage.
- Tunisia faced England at the 1998 World Cup, the Carthage Eagles suffering a 2-0 defeat at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.
- Tunisia's one and only victory in 12 World Cup matches came in 1978, when they saw off Mexico to register the first ever win by an African nation on the global stage.
1 - England have lost just once in 21 meetings with Belgium, that sole reverse dating back to a friendly in 1936. Since then, the two sides have crossed paths twice at World Cup finals, drawing 4-4 in 1954 before David Platt's last-gasp goal earned England victory in 1990.