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World Cup Group H heats up

  • Published at 10:52 am June 24th, 2018
England's Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Kieran Trippier during training Reuters

England have made a positive start to the World Cup with a late Harry Kane winner against Tunisia and will be strong favorites in their second game against Panama who lost 3-0 against Belgium in their opener.

 England coach Gareth Southgate will have to make a decision on whether to play Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling up front or bring in Man United’s Marcus Rashford in his place after a disappointing opening game from Sterling. This will be the first ever meeting between England and 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.England haven’t won consecutive games at the World Cup since their opening two games of the 2006 tournament. Only twice before have England won both of their opening two games to a World Cup campaign (1982 and 2006).

Japan vs Senegal

Group H has been one full of upsets so far with both Japan and Senegal winning their opening games against the more fancied Japan and Poland. They could both be happy with a draw as that almost assures qualification through to the next round although a win for either team would all but guarantee it. Senegal are undefeated in group-stage matches at the FIFA World Cup. Their four-match unbeaten record is now one clear of the mark set by Germany and Wales. 

Keisuke Honda came off the bench in the last game and coach Akira Nishino is expected to stick to the same side for the Samurai Blue.This will be the fourth meeting between Japan and Senegal, with the African side unbeaten in the previous three (W2 D1, all friendlies). Senegal have won three of their six World Cup matches. They’ve got the best win rate of any African nation to play in the competition (50%).

Poland vs Colombia

This is a must win clash for both Poland and Colombia with anything less than a win making their last matches must-wins. If they do draw this game, then they will hope for Japan and Senegal to draw their game with a hope to win their last game and get through on goal difference. Poland have never qualified for the knockout stages and they will hope for more from their big Bayern Munich striker . 

There will be a lot hinging on the fitness of the last World Cup’s Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez who came on as a substitute against Japan but failed to make an impression. Colombia have won only two of their nine previous World Cup games against European opponents (D2 L5), though these victories have come in their last four such meetings against Switzerland in 1994 and Greece in 2014.None of Poland’s nine World Cup games against South American opponents has finished as a draw, with the Eagles winning four and losing five.