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Things of interest to look out for Monday in World Cup

MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- Monday sees the sides from Group G and H go into action for the first time in the World Cup finals.

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 ‘Bolillo’ Gomez.

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.

             

 

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