In preparing for their first ever World Cup, Panama have had a mixed time of it, though, given their general standing in world football, they’ve not done badly at all. When facing the Welsh back in late 2017, the minnows proved that they’re more than capable of getting competitive, while they did well to restrict Denmark to just a single-goal victory after that.
Getting thrashed 6-0 by Switzerland in March was a low point in the run leading up to Russia, though Hernán Darío Gómez’s men recently bounced back with a 1-0 win over Trinidad, while they once again showed their grit and determination when holding Northern Ireland to a 0-0 draw last time out. At the end of their day, they’re not a flashy side, they have no big-name players, they struggle massively to make headway offensively and they’re highly likely to leave Russia at the earliest possible stage. However, the CONCACAF side may just be capable of going to the World Cup and retaining a level of dignity.
Unlike their visitors on Wednesday, Norway won’t be in Russia this summer, but they’ll certainly be expecting to beat a World Cup-bound Panama in this fixture. The hosts have been in very good form on their own patch of late, so getting the better of a side who struggle to impose themselves on the road should be well within Norway’s grasp.
Since late 2016, Norway have been very difficult to face on their own patch; they’ve not given too much away, whilst they’ve offered a reasonable attacking threat at the same time, as recent home wins against the likes of Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland and Australia have shown. Even against a Panama side that will look to get men behind the ball, the hosts should have the quality to come out on top.
As we saw last time out, the visitors can keep things tight, but they have found it hard to deny teams on the road. In recent away matches, Panama have restricted the likes of Wales, Denmark and Iran, but they tend to give way eventually. Their recent performance against Northern Ireland, who recently took on Norway at this venue, is worth considering.
Against the Northern Irish, Panama competed well; they were not outplayed, while they didn’t give too much away. However, a lack of both creativity and end-product was once again evident. In contrast, when Norway took on the Northern Irish back in late 2017, they forced the issue that bit more, while they threatened more offensively. It is this extra quality in the final third, that can see the Norwegians through on this occasion.
Panama are not often beaten by a wide margin, while Norway don’t often beat teams out of sight, but it’s impossible to deny the fact that Wednesday’s hosts have far more about them offensively. On this basis, the bet that stands out is ‘Norway to Win & Under 3.5 Goals’.
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There is no head-to-head record for these two teams; this will be the first ever footballing meeting between the two nations.
Norway should be at something close to full strength on Wednesday evening. Regulars such as Josh King, Havard Nordtveit and Stefan Johansen should feature prominently, while Crystal Palace’s Alexander Sorloth should also be involved.
With this being their second warm up game in a week, Panama could rotate slightly. After coming on last time out, Ricardo Avila, Miguel Camargo and Ismael Diaz could all come into the starting XI.