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2018 World Cup Betting Preview & Prediction: Panama vs Tunisia
Eliminated from World Cup:– Egypt – Saudi Arabia – Morocco – Peru – Costa Rica – Tunisia – Panama – Poland – Iran – South Korea – GERMANY#WorldCup #WorldCup2018 #GERKOR — Janek (@_lvty) 27 de junio de 2018
- When: Thursday, 2 PM ET
- Where: Mordovia Arena, Saransk
- TV/Stream: Fox Sports 1/Fox Sports Go
- 2018 World Cup Betting Odds: Tunisia -123 / Panama +310 / Draw +245 (Total 2.5)
Why Bet on Panama?
- Confederation: CONCACAF
- Head coach: Hernán Darío Gómez
- Captain: Román Torres
- FIFA Ranking: 55
- World Cup Appearances: 1
It’s the first-ever World Cup for this side, so surely the players would like to leave with a win and third place.
The Panamanians lost 3-0 to Belgium and then 6-1 to England. Panama, warned repeatedly for physical defending throughout the first half, had quality chances in the opening minutes from Edgar Barcenas and Anibal Godoy but couldn’t capitalize. The pace of scoring slowed in the second half after Panama coach Hernan Gomez approached England counterpart Gareth Southgate at the edge of the dugout and gestured for him to calm things down.
Their lone goal of the tournament was by Felipe Baloy. Only two players have been older than Baloy (37y 120d) when scoring their first ever World Cup goal – Cameroon’s Roger Milla (38y 25d) in 1990 and Sweden’s Gunnar Gren (37y 236d) in 1958.
Former United States coach Bruce Arena believes the two penalties that England earned in their 6-1 World Cup rout of Panama would not have been given in CONCACAF qualifying. Egyptian referee Gehad Grisha awarded England a pair of penalties when Fidel Escobar and Roman Torres knocked over Jesse Lingard, and when Anibal Godoy wrestled Harry Kane to the ground. That led to two successful spot kicks by Kane as England built a 5-0 lead.
Arena, who took over midway through the U.S.’s World Cup qualifying campaign but could not lead them to Russia, said Panama would have gotten away with the incidents back home and said sub-par refereeing in the region hurts teams when they advance to the global stage. Panama did not do anything nefarious to grab the third and final automatic qualifying spot in CONCACAF, although it did catch some massive breaks.
While Saudi Arabia was the early front-runner for the unofficial title of “Worst Team in the World Cup” when it was thrashed 5-0 in the opening game by host Russia, Panama has taken over that moniker. The last time a nation lost each of their first three ever World Cup games – as Panama could do – was in 2006, with both Togo and Serbia doing so.
The last time Panama faced an African team was South Africa during the 2005 Gold Cup, where Panama prevailed in that quarter-final match, defeating them on penalties. Jaime Penedo, Felipe Baloy, Gabriel Gomez, Luis Tejada all played in that match, in a tournament where Panama ultimately ended a memorable campaign as runner-up.
- 1-J. Penedo
- 5-R. Torres
- 15-E. Davis
- 4-F. Escobar
- 2-M. Murillo
- 6-G. Gómez
- 11-A. Cooper
- 20-A. Godoy
- 8-E. Bárcenas
- 21-José Rodríguez
- 7-B. Pérez
Why Bet on Tunisia?
- Confederation: CAF
- Head Coach: Nabil Maâloul
- Captain: Aymen Mathlouthi
- FIFA Ranking: 21
- World Cup Appearances: 5
This will be the first time the two nations have faced each other and a robust game can be expected, with both sides prone to indulge in wrestling bouts in defense.
Tunisia, ranked 21st in the world and representing the Arab world as well as Africa, are probably more anxious to salvage some pride from the campaign. The North Africans played well enough in their opening game against England, going down 2-1 to a late Harry Kane goal, but they then got thumped 5-2 by Belgium. Tunisia is now winless in 13 World Cup matches (D4 L9), losing their last four in a row.
Tunisia has already conceded more goals at this World Cup (7) than they did in any of their previous four tournaments; their previous high was six conceded in 2006. Tunisia made two lineup changes vs. Belgium as Farouk Ben Mustapha replaced injured goalkeeper Mouez Hassen, who left the pitch in tears against England. And, Saîf-Eddine Khaoui replaced Naïm Sliti.
Expect one team to emerge happy from the match in Saransk: ever since the move to a 32-team FIFA World Cup in 1998, all “dead rubbers” between two already-eliminated sides have ended decisively. Saudi Arabia and Egypt keeping the tradition going in Volgograd on Monday.
Tunisia may be out of contention of making the Round of 16, but they can notch an important milestone with a victory over FIFA World Cup newcomers Panama on Thursday: it would be their first win at the tournament since 1978.
Tunisia has previously faced just one CONCACAF side at a World Cup finals, winning 3-1 against Mexico in 1978 – their first ever World Cup match.
Panama’s Felipe Baloy about Tunisia: “Tunisia is a complicated team. Against Belgium, they did a good game, against England they didn’t better I think, especially in their attack. I think their captain (Wahbi Khazri) is the most interesting player they have. We can’t be overconfident, we can’t think is going to be easy, but we are sure that our manager knows what we have to do, and will do it in the best way.”
- 22-M. Hassen
- 2-S. Ben Youssef
- 12-A. Maâloul
- 11-D. Bronn
- 23-N. Sliti
- 13-F. Sassi
- 17-E. Skhiri
- 4-Y. Meriah
- 10-W. Khazri
- 9-A. Badri
- 8-F. Ben Youssef