In our Panama Preview: World Cup 2018, we share our analysis about this Panama team. Will this Panama team be the weakest in the World Cup, or a surprise package?
Panama Preview: World Cup 2018
Goalkeepers: Jose Calderon, Jaime Penedo, Alex Rodriguez
Defenders: Felipe Baloy, Harold Cummings, Erick Davis, Fidel Escobar, Adolfo Machado, Michael Amir Murillo, Luis Ovalle, Roman Torres
Midfielders: Edgard Barcenas, Armando Cooper, Anibal Godoy, Gabriel Gomez, Valentin Pimentel, Alberto Quintero, Jose Luis Rodriguez
Forwards: Abdiel Arroyo, Ismael Diaz, Blas Perez, Luis Tejeda, Gabriel Torres
- Manager: Hernan Dario Gomez
- Captain: Roman Torres
- Best Finish: First appearance
Likely starting lineup
The United States’ misery was Panama’s jubilation last October, as the former failed to avoid defeat against Trinidad & Tobago and were subsequently failed to reach the finals.
Panama made the last 32 as a result, sparking wild celebrations across the nation and feverish excitement ahead of the tournament itself. Regardless of what happens in Russia, this crop of players have made history and appear ready to seize their moment at the World Cup.
Of course, attention will now turn to what Panama can actually do this summer. Against England and Belgium in particular they’ll be big underdogs, although they will target the match with Tunisia as a chance to pick up their first ever World Cup win.
The formation that’s been instilled by Gomez during his time in charge of the national team lends itself well to the type of matches Panama will have to play. A 5-4-1 system means Panama are unlikely to offer too much as an attacking force, with the focus clearly on keeping things tight at the back and trying to scramble something when they do venture forward.
The worry for Panama is that for all the game defending they are capable of doing, they don’t have a valve to relieve pressure. Blas Perez remains a crucial attacking player, but the Panamanian icon is now 37 years old.
Staying sharp throughout the three games is likely to be an issue for him as a result and the same goes for star goalkeeper Jaime Penedo (36) and full-back Felipe Baloy (37). It’s important Gomez finds other areas of the team to inject some energy.
Given the gulf in class between Panama and the three teams they’re up against, a point in any game would be considered a big achievement. It’d be one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history if they were to make it into the last-16.
Key Man – Roman Torres
With Panama’s clash with Costa Rica deadlocked at 1-1 in October, a goal was needed to send the nation to the World Cup for the first time. Torres, who marched forward from defence, thudded home a fine strike three minutes from time to put his team in the finals.
It was an almost cartoonish show of leadership from the Seattle Sounders man and an illustration as to why he’s the player entrusted with the armband. At the heart of what’s set to be a five-man defence, he’s the linchpin and so often the player ready to put himself on the line for the cause.
Torres has also shown throughout his career he has a taste for the big occasion. Not only did he net the winner against Costa Rica, in the 2016 Major League Soccer Cup final he stroked home the winning penalty for Seattle in a shootout.
The concern for Panama ahead of the finals is that Torres has been carrying a knock, leading to doubts as to whether he’ll be fully fit.
Panama’s Group Stage fixtures
Monday, June 18
Sunday, June 24
Thursday, June 28
Panama’s path to the final
If Panama wins Group G, their Round of 16 game will be against the country that finishes second from Group H which will either be Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan. If Panama wins that Round of 16 game, Panama will enter the quarterfinal stage with a game against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group F (Costa Rica, Brazil, Serbia or Switzerland) and the team that finishes second in Group E (either Germany, Mexico, South Korea or Sweden). If Panama advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the A1 vs. B2 versus C1 vs. D2 series.
If Panama finishes second in Group G, Panama will play the team that finishes first in Group H (either Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan). If Panama wins that game, it would be in the quarterfinal against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group F (either Germany, Mexico, South Korea or Sweden) and the team that finishes second in Group E (either Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia or Costa Rica). If Panama advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the B1 vs. A2 versus D1 vs. C2 series.
Panama World Cup shirt (home)
Cheer the World Cup new boys in the country’s first World Cup jersey.
In the traditional home red, there is a patterned front panel and modern v-neck. Inside the collar is printed a phrase from the national anthem “Alcanzamos por fin la victoria” (In the end we reach the victory.)
Panama World Cup shirt (away)
The chevron pattern on the front is inspired by the Panama City skyline, and by the Harpy Eagle, the national bird. Inside the collar is printed a phrase from the national anthem “Alcanzamos por fin la victoria” (In the end we reach the victory.)
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