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EXCLUSIVE: Paul Robinson’s World Cup Blog

Promising signs for England but squad depth all important

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Following a 5-2 win, we saw an example of what Belgium can really do in this tournament with the attacking prowess and firepower they have, brushing aside Tunisia with ease. The warning signs are there for England ahead of the probable Group G decided on Thursday, but before then, a professional performance against Panama will give Gareth Southgate and his side a chance to show their teeth.

Against Tunisia, I thought they were excellent in the first 20 minutes started the game very well on the front foot but I also think they struggled at times to break down and create chances against a resilient Tunisia side who were very physical. The last minute winner was excellent for confidence and momentum, but there are some issues Gareth Southgate needs to address as the tournament moves on.

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Harry Kane obviously stood out for his 2 goals and the way he lead the side as captain. It will do him the world of good as the skipper to have the telling impact on the result. He’s the best player we have and our greatest goal threat – although he wasn’t always involved, his goals mean he’s our most important player. I was also impressed with Harry Maguire’s performance at the back as I wouldn’t have necessarily started him ahead of Cahill on the night. The Leicester City man showed composure and played very well. On top of that he was always a danger on set pieces.

Looking ahead to Panama, regardless of photographs in newspapers, I think we know the team already anyway. It’s clear Ruben Loftus Cheek will come in for Dele Alli who’s been struggling. He was impressive in his cameo against Tunisia and his selection goes to show the importance of the squad for the tournament and having ready-made replacements ready to come in when needed.

The tournament as a whole, I thought, had a slow start in terms of goals, but I think teams are really starting to find their stride despite some of the big boys not firing on all cylinders so far. I’ve been impressed with Spain. Even though they only beat Iran 1-0 and drew by conceding three against Portugal, the way they’ve played has deserved better and they’re all but through to the next stage. I also think Uruguay have the potential to grow. They’ve only won by slim score lines so far against teams you’d expect them to do better against. But they’re very solid, kept two clean sheets and a forward line consistent of Suarez and Cavani means they’re always going to be a threat and could catch fire at any moment.

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