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5 things to look out for on day 11 of the World Cup

By June 23, 2018No Comments

Gareth Southgate’s England will look to join Belgium on six points at the top of Group G and Japan or Senegal could also reach the second round with a win.

Here, Press Association Sport ponders what to look out for during Sunday’s action.

England v Panama

Harry Kane’s injury-time header gave England the win they deserved in their opening match and they will look to build on that when they play Panama in Nizhny Novgorod, having seen Belgium win 5-2 against Tunisia on Saturday.

The week has been dominated by whether or not the media was right to
publish pictures of apparent team line-up plans for Sunday’s game, although Southgate said it was “no drama.”

Dele Alli has been nursing a thigh injury and could be a doubt, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek perhaps poised to play. Another change to the starting line up could see Marcus Rashford come in for Raheem Sterling.

Japan v Senegal

After surprise wins in their opening matches, either nation can take a giant leap towards the knock-out stages with another victory in Ekaterinburg.

Any concerns raised by Japan’s eleventh-hour appointment of coach Akira Nishino just weeks before the tournament were cast aside thanks to a win in their first match, although the Samurai Blue were helped massively by the third-minute red card for Carlos Sanchez against Colombia. Japan will attempt to become the first Asian country to win both of their opening two group games at a World Cup.

Senegal were much more convincing in their success over Poland and another victory would set them on their way to replicating the run of the nation’s iconic class of 2002.

Poland v Colombia

5 things to look out for on day 11 of the World Cup PLZ Soccer
James Rodriguez is a key figure for Colombia (Mike Egerton/PA)

Defeats have left both Poland and Colombia with little room for error and another loss for either in Kazan will mean they are unable to qualify for the next stage.

Individual mistakes cost Poland against Senegal but Adam Nawalka’s team never really got going in their first match, looking a yard off the pace, short of ideas and with star man Robert Lewandowski isolated. Defender Kamil Glik was a big miss for Nawalka and he will hope to have the Monaco man available this time.

Colombia were also missing a big player and they will hope James Rodriguez is fit enough to start, with the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner only fit enough for a 59th-minute substitute appearance against Japan.

Media briefings

The group stage begins to reach its conclusion on Monday with host nation Russia facing Uruguay in a match that will decide who tops Group A.

Stanislav Cherchesov’s hosts, the lowest-ranked at the World Cup, have already qualified and surpassed the expectations of the Russian media, who may now perhaps give the team more favourable coverage.

Spain and Portugal are locked level at the top of Group B going into their final matches against Morocco and Iran respectively and Fernando Hierro and Fernando Santos will also be fielding questions from their country’s journalists this weekend.

Also coming up

5 things to look out for on day 11 of the World Cup PLZ Soccer
Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli before the defeat to Croatia (Tim Goode/Empics)

Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli has been heavily criticised for his side’s showing so far at the tournament.

Over-reliant on Lionel Messi, who missed a penalty in the draw with Iceland and failed to register a single shot on target in the 3-0 defeat to Croatia, Sampaoli has been unable to get the best out of top performers like Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuaín, Angel Di Maria and Paulo Dybala.

He threw his players under the bus following the capitulation against Croatia, saying: “I think that because of the reality of the Argentine squad, it sort of clouds Leo’s (Lionel Messi) brilliance. Leo is limited because the team doesn’t gel ideally with him as it should.”

Sampaoli is set to face the media again ahead of Argentina’s must-win game against Nigeria in St Petersburg’s on Tuesday, with the two-time World Cup winners on the brink of an embarrassing elimination.

Even if Argentina beat Nigeria, it may no be enough to qualify if Iceland manage a victory against Croatia.