Panama’s unlikely World Cup qualification is one of the greatest underdog stories in the history of the tournament but now it’s time to put sentiment to one side. If the Canal Men decide to write any feel good stories in Russia, it could spell disaster for England.
Anyone who thinks victory against the Central Americans is a foregone conclusion clearly hasn’t followed the England national team closely enough over the years.
You may be thinking: “They’re a team of average players plying their trade in the States!”
We say: “USA 1950!”
“They’ve never played in a major tournament before!”
We say: “Iceland 2016!”
England have faced a so-called ‘lesser side’ in their last three World Cups but their last such victory came against Trinidad and Tobago in 2006. Even then, it took 83 minutes to break them down.
Here are five reminders of why Gareth Southgate’s men need to take Panama very seriously…