(Xinhua) -- Monday sees the sides from
Group G and H go into action for the first time in the World Cup
That means we have our first chance to see
Belgium, England and Colombia among others.
Here are some things to look out for.
• Can Belgium live up to
expectations against debutants Panama?
On paper, a talented Belgium side should have way to much
firepower for Panama, who make history in their first ever game
at a World Cup.
Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazzard lead a
Belgian team tipped to go far in this tournament.
Panama meanwhile have built their reputation on a solid
defense and a physical style of play under experienced coach
The central Americans have not impressed in warm-up games and
it remains to see if their first ever World Cup match will be a
Cinderella fairy tale, or a rude awakening.
• A fresh new
England, or the same old story?
There is no doubt that past England sides in the World Cup
have suffered under the weight of the (unrealistic) expectations
of both the fans and the press.
Recent disappointments mean English hopes are lower in Russia
than in past major tournaments, but coach Gareth Southgate has
been working to build a young side that has put together some
decent performances over the past year.
If Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Deli Ali click against
Tunisia, English fans may have reasons to start getting their
hopes up once again, but they should also be wary of a Tunisian
team just one place below them in the FIFA world rankings.
• No crowd trouble please
One of the features of the World Cup finals so far has been
the excellent atmosphere in Russia with fans from all over the
World getting together to enjoy the party.
It’s fair to say that England travel with a bad reputation
for hooliganism due to a minority of their fans and they have
been asked by their own authorities to respect important
monuments in Volgograd.
France 2016 saw ugly incidents involving Russian ultras and
English fans and for the sake of this summer’s World Cup, it’s
to be hoped we won’t see a repeat of anything like that before
or after the England game.