With England not playing their first match until Monday 18th June, Gareth Southgate has plenty of time to prepare his squad – but hopefully not too much time to ponder how it could all go wrong.
We’ve been here before of course: at the previous World Cup England finished bottom of their group, scraping only a single point after a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica. Meanwhile in England’s last major tournament, Euro 2016, they infamously lost to underdogs Iceland in the round of 16.
RESULT: Harry Kane scores twice to see England secure a nervy 2-1 victory over Tunisia. Flies, heat and humidity made for an uncomfortable affair – not to mention the stress for fans watching back home – but the result is all that matters, particularly when World Cup giants such as Germany and Brazil have already come unstuck.
Although England will be favourites going into this game (before the World Cup they were ranked 13th by FIFA, well ahead of Panama’s spot at number 55), the Central American team shouldn’t be completely discounted. To qualify for Russia 2018, Panama had to beat the likes of the USA, who made it to the round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup.
Expected to be England’s toughest group game, the Belgium match will see Southgate’s side take on the third best team in the world, according to FIFA rankings before the tournament. Premier League stars Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will certainly stretch the England squad.
But it’s worth bearing in mind, England have a good record against Belgium: of their 15 encounters, England have only lost twice.
When will England play in the World Cup round of 16?
If England make it to the next round, their next match day will depend on whether they finished first or second in Group G.
Although we can’t be sure of match times until the group stage is over, we do know the game will almost certainly air on ITV. The World Cup match split between the BBC and ITV means that the latter network gets the first pick of a round of 16 match to broadcast.
If England finish first in Group G…
(Match 54) They’ll play Monday 2nd July 2, 7pm, v runner-up of Group H
If England finish second in Group G…
(Match 56) They’ll play Tuesday 3rd July, 7pm, v winner of Group H
Group H consists of Poland, Senegal, Colombia, and Japan. Some have judged this to be the tournament’s weakest group, the only one without a former World Cup winner.
Although it’s a tough group to predict a winner from, according to FIFA rankings Poland are tipped to finish first (they’re rank 10 in the world), followed by Columbia (rank 16), Senegal (28) and Japan (60).
When will England play in the World Cup quarter-final?
The time and day of England’s quarter-final game will again depend on whether they top their group or not (as well as whether they get through the previous round, of course).
If England does reach a quarter-final, the media match split means the game will almost certainly air on BBC1 – the broadcaster have the first two choices of quarter-final games.
If England finish first in Group G and win their round of 16 Match…
(Match 58) They’ll play Friday 6th July, 7pm v winner match 53
The big question here is who will win Match 53 and be England’s opponent. Match 53 will a battle between the Group E winners (potentially Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Serbia) and the runner-up of Group F (Germany, Mexico, Sweden or South Korea).
Judging how Germany and Brazil are favourite to win their respective groups, Match 53 (a round of 16 game) is tipped to see Brazil play Mexico, Sweden or South Korea. And seeing how Brazil will be favourite to come out top against any of those opponents, the likeliest scenario would be England playing Brazil in the quarter-final.
Of course, this is the World Cup, a tournament normally rife with major upsets. Anything could happen.
If England finish second in Group G and win their round of 16 Match…
(Match 60) They’ll play Saturday 7th July, 3pm, v winner match 55
Judging by FIFA rankings, Germany is likeliest to be England’s opponents here. They’re favourite to win Group F (Germany, Mexico, Sweden, and South Korea) and, as world number 1, they’re also favourite to win all games leading to the quarter-final.
When will England play in the World Cup semi-final?
We like your optimism but guessing England’s opponents may be too much here, considering the unpredictability of the tournament. What we can say, however, is that England’s semi-final is extremely likely to air on ITV, with the broadcaster having first dibs of the semi-final games.
If England finish first in Group G and win their quarter-final…
They’ll play Tuesday 10th July, 7pm
If England finish second in Group G and win their quarter-final…
They’ll play Wednesday 11th July, 7pm
When is the World Cup final on TV?
Whether England make it all the way or not, the final will air on Sunday 15th July, 4pm from Moscow. The match will be broadcast on both ITV and BBC1.
When is the World Cup third-place play-off on TV?
The losers of both semi-final games will face off on Saturday 14th July, 3pm at St Petersburg. The match will air on ITV.
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