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England: Create the space you know you can win

England know that a win against Panama will secure a place in the last-16

Harry Kane’s late winner against Tunisia means that a win for England against Panama will ensure that qualification for the knockout stages is achieved. When the pubs are full of expectant fans you know that something different is happening. There is certainly an air of optimism around, even if it is tempered.

I haven’t seen a team create as many clear-cut chances as we created in that [Tunisia] game. We’ve set ourselves up now in the group to go on and really kick on. Harry Maguire, via The Guardian

Keys to the game

Patience. Panama modest ability means that they are expected to ‘park-the-bus’. England would love nothing better than an early goal (or two) but that might not happen. Brazil’s 2-0 win against Costa Rica is a great example of where patience can pay off. A repeat of Jan Tomaszewski’s heroics in 1973 isn’t wanted in Russia (sorry Panama). You never give up that’s how it should be.

Discipline. Tunisia tried every trick in the book to frustrate England. Panama would love nothing better than to cause one of the upsets of the tournaments. England’s resolve may be tested in Nizhny but it’s up to the players to keep their focus and avoid unnecessary bookings, easier said than done.

Selfless-commitment. It’s a natural instinct to want to score and grab the headlines. Sadio Mané was a little guilty of this in Liverpool’s run-in to their domestic season. He may be forgiven but England won’t have the luxury of wasting chances (again). The England forwards will need to put the needs of the team before their own desire to be the man-of-the-moment.

The Skipper. Kane is a complete forward. He’s much more than the fox-in-the-box. It would be biased to compare the current England skipper to Gary Lineker but Kane has got the knack of being in the right place at the right time. You need a bit of luck in football, Kane has the ability to be able to make them count when it really matters.

There’s a long way to go in the World Cup, there’s not need to carried away, is there? I know what we can do. If you’re struggling to cope with the hype or find the enthusiasm for England’s game watch this.

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