Panama will stick to their mantra of defend, defend, defend against England much in the same way they approached their opener with Belgium, though they lack the resources to trouble the Three Lions at the other end. In fact, the Central Americans only managed nine goals in 10 qualifiers (one less than they conceded) while their two leading goalscorers in the squad are 36 and 37 years old. Given England haven’t shipped more than a single goal in any of their last nine fixtures, keeping six clean sheets including against the likes of Germany, Brazil and the Netherlands, the win to nil is banker material for any accas.
Though England should take maximum points without too many issues, they’re unlikely to take Panama to the cleaners as they rarely batter opponents. They’ve only netted more than two goals on two occasions in their last 28 matches now, while they last time they pulled off that feat at a major tournaments came way back in Euro 2004. Panama have only conceded more than two goals in two of their last 24 matches, and their defensive approach is set to see this game go unders.
Rashford may be knocking at the door for a place in the starting XI, but Southgate has shown a lot of faith in Sterling and is unlikely to drop the Man City man despite going 21 internationals without a goal, especially as this could be an opportunity to build up his confidence in an England shirt. That does of course increase the burden on Kane to fire England to victory, but with 10 goals in his past eight internationals the captain is certainly up to the task at hand, while he’s lead from the front with the opening goal in five of the seven games in which he found the net.