24-year-old striker, Harry Kane, has 108 goals in 150 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur. Kane is set to captain the England national team in the 2018 FIFA World Cup (via @HKane/Twitter)

FIFA World Cup preview: Manchester’s De Bruyne to lead top-ranked Belgium side through Group G

Young England side hopes to return to winning ways and advance to knockout stage

The 2018 FIFA World Cup begins on Thursday, June 14. Leading up to the tourney, we’ll offer our previews and predictions for each of the eight groups. Today, a look at Group G:

Belgium

FIFA rank (as of June 7, 2018): 3

Best player: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

De Bruyne runs the midfield. He led the English Premier League in assists in 2017-18 with 16 as well he led Manchester City to a Premier League title. With a forward group as skilled as Belgium’s, De Bruyne will be the go-to in the attacking midfield.

One to watch: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)

The 25-year-old striker uses a combination of speed and physical play to get through defences. He has a deadly left-footed shot that produced 25 goals in the 2016-17 Premier League season for Everton.

Outlook:

In 1986, Belgium achieved fourth place for their best-ever finish at the World Cup. They have an unbelievably talented squad that has the ability to win the tournament. Anything short of the semifinals and it would be classified as a failure.

READ MORE: FIFA World Cup preview: Lionel Messi set to shine on the world stage in Group D

Panama

FIFA rank: 55

Best player: Ramon Torres (Seattle Sounders)

Torres is a rock at centre-back and was influential in helping the Sounders capture the MLS Cup in 2016, the first in Sounders history.

One to watch: Luis Tejada (Sport Boys)

Tejada is tied for the most goals in Panama history with 43, along with teammate Blas Perez. He had a successful season in 2017 with Universitario with 18 goals.

Outlook:

A nation of roughly 4 million people, this is the first time Panama has appeared in a World Cup. They will enjoy every moment in Russia, however it is unlikely they will win a game.

Tunisia

FIFA rank: 21

Best player: Wahbi Khazri (Rennes)

Khazri is on loan from Sunderland to Rennes in the French Ligue 1.

One to watch: Mouez Hassen (Chateauroux)

It is likely that Tunisia will call upon the 23-year-old goalkeeper to start. Originally born in France, Hassen has represented the nation at every youth level from Under-16s through to Under-21s. In 2018 he decided to represent his parents’ native Tunisia.

Outlook:

This will be Tunisia’s fifth World Cup appearance and they have yet to make it past the group stage. A group that includes Belgium and England will likely mean an early exit for the African side.

READ MORE: FIFA World Cup preview: Whitecaps’ Kendall Waston hopes to repeat success of Costa Rica in 2014 in Group E

England

FIFA rank: 12

Best player: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)

Kane will captain England side. Kane won the Premier League Golden Boot in back-to-back seasons (2015-16 and 2016-17), scoring 25 and 29 goals, respectively. He is a strong forward and one of the world’s best at finding ways to put the ball into the back of the net.

One to watch: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)

Alli is the third-youngest player on the roster yet his experience would say otherwise. He scored 18 goals in the Premier League in 2016-17 for the Spurs as a midfielder. Alli is a tall presence in the midfield and will be influential in controlling the play for England.

Outlook:

In 2014 England had a poor performance at the World Cup as they were unable to make it through the group stage. At the Euros in 2016, England fell to Iceland in the round of 16. Expectations are low for this squad, however they are virtually guaranteed to make it through the group stage this time around.

Group Winner: Belgium. They are talented, strong and fast and are a lock to make it to at least the quarter-finals.

Group Runner-up: England. Despite recent blunders in past tournaments, England has a capable side of making a run well into the knockout stage.

READ MORE: FIFA World Cup preview: Defending World Cup champions Germany prepared to lead Group F


@kieranroconnor
kieran.oconnor@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Northern B.C.’s Ridley coal terminal sold, Canada divests, First Nations to own portion

Ten per cent of shares transferred to the Lax Kw’alaams Band and the Metlakatla First Nation

Haida artist Derek Edenshaw helps Rupert spruce up city

A giant kraken, painted by local artists under Edenshaw’s tutelage, is now on display

Haida Gwaii teacher denied paid bereavement travel leave

Arbitrator sides with B.C. Teachers Federation in dispute over funeral trip

Skeena mainstem closed to recreational sockeye

Escapements expected to be below 800,000 threshold

Rainbow Yarnbombing takes over

Haida Gwaii Knitting Group surprise the islands

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Anglican Church to review governance structure after same-sex marriage change fails

Some say the current system to change doctrine gives too much voting power to a smaller class of bishops

B.C. adding fast-charge stations for electric highway trips

Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Kootenay stations ready for use

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

Most Read