FIFA World Cup Day 11 Predictions Including Senegal vs Japan

England can secure qualification to the knockout stages at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while Group H will complete play on Sunday, ending match day 2 in Russia. Our panelists offer their previews, with predictions.

England vs Panama (Sunday in Nizhny Novgorod)

Steen Kirby: England are a quality side and Panama are simply not. The Panamanians will compete hard but eventually England should break them down and secure qualification for the knockout stages. England 3-0

Manuel Traquete: This group had a very clear top 2 before it even started and nothing that happened so far has changed that initial perception. Panama did great to qualify but they’re out of their depth at this level. England 2-0

Kartik Krishnaiyer: England’s performance against Tunisia in a 2-1 win was both impressive and labored. Harry Kane’s brilliance continues as he has proven both for Spurs and England that he can score any which way. England’s three man backline held up well and the midfield of Jordan Henderson, Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard controlled the tempo of the match versus Tunisia. However, England needed Ruben Loftus-Cheek to come on late to provide a creative spark. Don’t be surprised if he starts this match in place of Alli or Lingard. Panama, one of the weakest teams in the field from the ultra-weak CONCACAF region is just happy to have qualified. England 4-0

Japan vs Senegal (Sunday in Yekaterinburg)

Steen: Japan scored an upset win over Colombia with some strong play, but Senegal also shocked Poland in their opening game. If this game produces a winner then one of the knockout slots in this group will be locked down but a draw seems quite possible. I’d expect both sides to produce goals, with Senegal likely to have an edge, but in the end a draw looks like the most likely outcome. 2-2 draw

Manuel: Two teams who surprised with their matchday 1 wins against Colombia and Polonia and who might be shaping up to be surprise packages in this tournament. Whoever wins this match automatically guarantees a spot in the last 16. There’s not much to separate both sides, a moment of inspiration or madness is likely to decide the outcome. 1-1 draw

Kartik: Many experts have touted Senegal as the potential sleeper in this competition. Based on their opening match against Poland, those prognostications appear accurate. Senegal features one of the most balanced sides around and the ability to score on quick counter-attacks or work nice build-up play gives them options. Japan is a good team though one whose best players are all aging. Both teams won their opening matches but I can see Senegal edging this one in a close and entertaining affair.  Senegal 2-1

Poland vs Colombia (Sunday in Kazan)

Steen: Colombia went a man down against Japan, and although they lost they impressed more than Poland did in their opening game. I’m not sold on Poland outside of Lewandowski as a striker and I’d expect the more complete side to get the 3 points they need to stay alive in this group. Colombia 2-1

Manuel: While Japan and Senegal are playing for a last 16 spot, Poland and Colombia both have their backs against the wall. Whoever loses is out of the tournament. Colombia are favored to win though, there’s a great case to be made that their opening round loss was owed a lot to playing with 10 men for basically the entire match. Colombia 2-1

Kartik: A desperate match between two sides highly ranked and rated, yet both losers in their opening matches. Colombia struggled toward the end of South American qualifying and that form carried into the opening match of the World Cup where Carlos Sanchez was sent off after three minutes for an obvious handball on a Japanese shot that would likely have found the back of the net. Colombia recovered after the sending off playing well for the next 60 minutes or so but then got beat in the end by Japan. For Poland, Robert Lewandowski one of the great goal scorers at club in this generation has yet to show his quality and cutting edge in a major tournament. He’ll need to step up here. The most likely result is a draw which keeps both sides alive for the final matchday in the group play. 1-1 draw

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