It’s coming home, lads, and there’s nothing you can do about it. On reflection, that might be a touch premature, but if Tunisia can’t keep England at bay for longer than 92 minutes, how can anybody else hope to?
Gareth Southgate’s lions should really have put the game to bed in the opening 20 minutes, but it’s never straightforward with England. It also showed that my mention of a possible draw in my preview for that match wasn’t too wide of the mark. But then everyone says things like that on their failed bets, don’t they?
Of course, it’s Kyle Walker who’s the target of most of my ire. Without giving away a penalty my bets of England to win to nil, under 2.5 goals and a no on both teams to score stood a great chance of coming in. Dammit, Kyle.
Still, our bet on Harry Kane to score came in, and you’d never have thought to back him without me suggesting it. Ahem. Anyway, he’s by far the most obvious choice again for this match. While Panama are the weakest team in the group, Southgate will want to get England into the last 16 before resting the likes of Kane, so the Magic Chin should feature here.
Kane has now played eight times for England under their current manager, finding the net in seven of the matches, and amassing 10 goals along the way. He is available at just 8/15 to bag a goal here, or 2/1 to get the opener. As the Tottenham man scored a brace on Monday, and Lukaku did likewise against Panama, the 3/1 for Kane to score twice looks tasty.
There’s every chance the 12/1 odds for him to take the match ball home (because he scored a hat-trick, not just because he feels like it) could be the bet of the tournament. Watch this space.
Can anybody else get on the scoresheet for England? Probably not. Well, they can because Panama aren’t very good, but it’s very hard to make a case for a specific player. After Kane, nobody else in the squad has scored more than three international goals for Southgate, so who do you go for?
Welbeck is the top international scorer in the squad, Lingard had the most shots against Tunisia, and Rashford was lively as a substitute in that match. So I’m naturally going to go for Raheem Sterling.
His ridiculous goalless run for England has to end eventually, and he’ll get few better chances than against a Panama side who are currently 55th in the FIFA rankings. That puts them between the likes of Norway and Slovenia, so while they’ll have a decent shot at winning Eurovision, Panama are no great shakes at football. You should definitely consider a bet on Radio Raheem at 7/5 to score, or 4/1 to get the opener. When his goal drought finally ends, you’ll never get such sweet odds again.
As the Panamanians are so highly priced is there any value in a bet on them? Not really, as they’ve only scored one goal in their last six matches, and that was in the 93rd minute against a Trinidad and Tobago side who finished bottom of the final CONCACAF qualification group.
Blas Pérez has 43 international goals and started against Belgium, but he didn’t have a single shot in that match, so while he’s the logical choice for a source of goals, he’s unlikely to score. Panama are a whopping 20/1 to win the match, and it’s primarily their lack of goals that sees them priced as such.
I’m not going to suggest they can win, but England have faced sides from the CONCACAF federation at the last three World Cups, and haven’t done very well against any of them. Sven’s England took until the 83rd minute to take the lead against Trinidad and Tobago in Germany, before Don Fabio’s mob could only draw 1-1 with the USA thanks to a Rob Green blunder.
As for Roy Hodgson’s team in Brazil, they were already out by the time they faced Costa Rica, and even then they only drew 0-0. So while England should win this match easily – hence their price of 1/6 – history suggests they may struggle over the line.
But this match should – should – be more comfortable for Southgate’s side. Panama only won three of their 10 matches in their final qualification group, and they scored just once in their five games on the road.
I can’t see them beating Jordan Pickford here, so bet ‘no’ on both teams to score, which is yours at the low, low price of 4/11. It’s probably worth combining that with an England win, as then the available odds are 11/4.
As for the total goals market, it’s a tricky one. Monday night’s match with Tunisia’s was only England’s second in the last nine to feature at least three goals. On that basis, it would seem logical to go for under 2.5 goals at 19/20.
But Panama recently conceded six to Switzerland, and three on Monday to a bored looking Belgium, so it’s possible England might cut loose a little. Over 2.5 goals is 3/4, so Paddy thinks it’s the more likely outcome. So do I, so pop a few pennies on that and thank me later.