Friday, 20 July 2018
BREAKING NEWS

Today at the World Cup: Sunday, June 24

Today at the World Cup: Sunday, June 24
23 Jun
3:04

England face Panama in Group G

Last Updated: 24/06/18 3:40pm

Can Harry Kane inspire England to victory again? Can Harry Kane inspire England to victory again?

Can Harry Kane inspire England to victory again?

The second round of World Cup group matches concludes on Sunday, with England back in action.

Gareth Southgate’s side will close in on the knockout stages if they can beat Panama to make it two wins out of two, while the qualification picture in Group H will become clearer later on.

Each morning during the tournament we will bring you an overview of what is coming up that day. Here is what you can expect on the second Sunday of the 2018 World Cup…

World Cup fixtures
World Cup venues

Who’s playing today?

England v Panama (Group G) – Nizhny Novgorod, 1pm

Japan v Senegal (Group H) – Ekaterinburg, 4pm

Poland v Colombia (Group H) – Kazan, 7pm

0:33
England trained on Saturday morning before setting off for Nizhny Novgorod

England trained on Saturday morning before setting off for Nizhny Novgorod

What’s the deal?

Attention turns to Nizhny Novgorod for the first game of the day as England brace themselves for warmer temperatures and opposition expected to be more physical. Belgium were frustrated in a niggly first half before stretching to a 3-0 win and Panama defender Harold Cummings has warned that his team-mates are ready to “play hard”.

Panama's Roman Torres wins an aerial battle against Belgium Panama's Roman Torres wins an aerial battle against Belgium

Panama’s Roman Torres wins an aerial battle against Belgium

Triumph, and England will set up a tantalising showdown with Belgium in a game to decide who wins the group and therefore faces the second rather than first-placed side in Group H.

Southgate is sure to have a keen eye on events in Ekaterinburg and Kazan as he scopes out potential last-16 opponents. Japan and Senegal, who both claimed opening-round victories, go head to head, but if Poland or Colombia can make amends for their respective defeats, they will stay in the hunt.

Panama – the expert view

Feisty and in your face? Get the lowdown from a man who knows…

Three to watch

Ruben Loftus-Cheek: Dele Alli trained on Saturday morning after his thigh injury but his fitness was not given a glowing review by Southgate, and he missed Friday’s key tactics session. He is tipped to be replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek on Sunday, as per that team note snapped by photographers. The Chelsea player, on loan at Crystal Palace last season, brought fresh dynamism when he replaced Alli late on against Tunisia and has continued to catch the eye. “He looked sharp, fit, energetic when we saw him in training on Saturday,” Sky Sports News’ Rob Dorsett said after watching England before they departed for Nizhny Novgorod.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is set to start against Panama Ruben Loftus-Cheek is set to start against Panama

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is set to start against Panama

Ismaila Sarr: Sadio Mane might usually hog the Senegal headlines but Japan should watch out for another pacy foward in Ismaila Sarr. The tricky 20-year-old winger has been likened to Ousmane Dembele and claimed he turned down Barcelona last summer to continue his development at Dembele’s former club Rennes. No Senegal player completed more dribbles against Poland – and he also drew the most fouls.

Senegal's Ismaila Sarr in action against Poland Senegal's Ismaila Sarr in action against Poland

Senegal’s Ismaila Sarr in action against Poland

James Rodriguez: The man who starred in Brazil last time out was only named on the bench in Saransk after a calf injury but is expected to return to the starting line-up against Poland. Jose Pekerman’s side will need his craft to come to the fore if they are to keep their World Cup alive.

James Rodriguez came on for the final 30 minutes against Japan but is set to start against Poland James Rodriguez came on for the final 30 minutes against Japan but is set to start against Poland

James Rodriguez came on for the final 30 minutes against Japan but is set to start against Poland

Also look out for…

Royal approval

Japan have an unexpected but welcome extra supporter in the form of Princess Hisako of Takamado. The first member of Japan’s royal family to visit Russia in more than a century, she cheered the side to victory against Colombia, dropped into training in Kazan earlier this week and is set to attend Sunday’s game too.

Princess Hisako visits the Japan team at a training session in Kazan Princess Hisako visits the Japan team at a training session in Kazan

Princess Hisako visits the Japan team at a training session in Kazan

Cleanest stadium yet?

Japan and Senegal fans might have enjoyed opening-round wins but both sets of supporters checked their celebrations at the final whistle to scramble under seats and diligently round up their rubbish. Stadium staff in Ekaterinburg, rejoice.

“We were very impressed,” Southampton and Japan defender Maya Yoshida said. “It is not just the national team who represent Japan, but the fans in Russia also, so to be praised by the whole world, we are very proud of this.”

Senegal fans made plenty of noise against Poland - but left no litter! Senegal fans made plenty of noise against Poland - but left no litter!

Senegal fans made plenty of noise against Poland – but left no litter!

Stat of the day

Panama will be the 38th different nation England have faced at a World Cup – of the previous 37, they’ve only lost their first meeting against five; USA and Spain in 1950, Uruguay in 1954, Hungary in 1962 and Italy in 1990.

On this day

England had made it through to the knockout stages of Euro 2004 – but their tournament came to a familiar end on penalties as David Beckham and Darius Vassell missed their spot-kicks.

Fast forward to the 2014 World Cup and England were held to a goalless draw by Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte, finishing bottom of the group. But a nadir came in Natal, too. This was the day that Luis Suarez sunk his teeth into Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini. A four-month ban followed and he was soon leaving Liverpool for Barcelona.

It was a day to forget for England and Luis Suarez back in 2014 It was a day to forget for England and Luis Suarez back in 2014

It was a day to forget for England and Luis Suarez back in 2014

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