Five players to watch at World Cup 2018 in Groups G and H.
Panama - Ismael Díaz
Panama have the oldest squad at World Cup 2018. If coach Hernán Darío Gómez starts Blas Pérez and Luis Tejada together up front, that’s a strikeforce with a combined age of 73! Panama will need some youthful running to counter-balance all that ‘experience’. Díaz is a 21-year-old left winger who now plays for Deportivo B in Spain but used to play for Porto. His pace and power could be crucial, and so could his finishing. ‘The Canal Men’ have now gone 4 games without scoring a single goal.
Tunisia - Saîf-Eddine Khaoui
As they showed against Spain last week, Tunisia can be a very difficult team to break down. ‘The Eagles of Carthage’ have a well-organised defence but what do they offer in attack? Much rests on former Sunderland star Wahbi Khazri and newcomer Khaoui. The Marseille midfielder has the tough task of replacing Tunisia’s injured hero Youssef Msakni. Khaoui only has 2 international caps so far but he’s a free-kick specialist with a lovely left foot.
Poland - Piotr Zieliński
On paper, Poland’s attack could be one of the best at World Cup 2018. Robert Lewandowski is one of the top finishers in the world, and he’ll have Napoli duo Arkadiusz Milik and Zieliński feeding him. Milik had a horrible season with injuries but Zieliński was one of the quiet stars of Maurizio Sarri’s side. As Poland’s playmaker, he should have more space to shine. Zieliński loves to run with the ball but he’s also got a great eye for a pass. People are even comparing him to Kevin De Bruyne.
Colombia - Jefferson Lerma
Colombia also have an excellent attack, with James Rodríguez and Juan Cuadrado playing in behind Radamel Falcao. In defence, Tottenham’s Dávinson Sánchez partners Barcelona’s Yerry Mina, but what about midfield? That was their problem at World Cup 2014, when future Aston Villa flop Carlos Sánchez was left to stem the Brazilian tide. Four years on and he’s still in the squad, but Lerma looks a much better bet. On the back of a brilliant season at Levante, the holding midfielder is wanted by a host of clubs, including Bournemouth. World Cup 2018 will be a great shop window for him.
Senegal – Ismaïla Sarr
Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Mame Biram Diouf, Sadio Mané – the Senegal squad is full of familiar Premier League faces. One face that may be new is Sarr. The 20-year-old winger is making waves at Rennes in France, and Borussia Dortmund think he might be the next Ousmane Dembélé. Sarr certainly took his goal against Croatia brilliantly last week. He’ll be a real handful for defences at World Cup 2018.