Belgium vs Panama - Preview - World Cup 2018

Group G fixture between Belgium and Panama

Group G kicks off with a massive David vs Goliath fixture as Belgium and Panama lock horns at the Fisht Stadium. The Red Devils are many pundits’ dark horses to actually win the tournament, and if this game were to be played on paper, Belgium would steamroll their way past Panama. Luckily, this game will be played on the football pitch, meaning the North Americans will have an ounce of hope in them, even if it is the slightest of chances.

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FIFA World Cup 
Belgium vs Panama
Group G
Monday 18 June
Fisht Stadium
17:00

To Win 
Belgium 1/6
Draw 52/10
Panama 17/1

Belgium

Belgium will be looking to set things straight and stamp their authority on the FIFA World Cup when they prepare to tackle Panama in their first match of the tournament. Roberto Martinez’s men are firm favourites to progress through to the knockout stages of the World Cup and are expected to be in a comfortable position by the time they face England on Matchday Three.

The third best team in the world, according to FIFA rankings, have a plethora of attacking talent on showcase, as well as some rock-solid defenders to call upon for this tie, but the omission of Radja Nainggolan is one I will question until the final day of Belgium’s run.

Still, Belgium have a huge chance of conquering the world, and with players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, you can never write them off. De Bruyne comes off the back of a superb season at Manchester City, where they were runaway champions, while Hazard guided Chelsea to a FA Cup triumph, popping up with the winner against Lukaku’s Man United, where he netted 27 goals across all competitions in his first campaign.

In the qualifying stages, Belgium were arguably the most ruthful of the lot. Over two legs, they smashed seven goals past Cyprus, eight against Bosnia, 10 past Estonia and 15 against Gibraltar. Countries all on the same level as Panama. But, this is the World Cup, meaning things will be much less straightforward.

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Panama

Panama will be looking to pull off one of the biggest upsets in world football when they prepare to make it out of Group G unscathed. Hernan Dario Gomez’s men will take part in their first ever FIFA World Cup, and what a mammoth of a task it will be when they come up against two of Europe’s biggest heavyweights in Belgium and England, while they also face Africa’s highest ranked team, Tunisia.

The experience of Blas Perez and Luis Tejada will be heavy relied upon, with the frontmen scoring 43 goals each for their national team – the current record of goals scored by a Panamanian. The pair will give be no pushovers for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, and if the underdogs have any chance to earn something here, Perez and Tejeda will need to be at their utmost best. My only concern is that they’re 36 and 37 years old respectively.

Probable line-ups:

Belgium: 3-4-2-1
Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Meunier, De Bruyne, Dembele, Carrasco; Mertens, Hazard; Lukaku.

Panama: 4-4-2
Penedo; Machado, Torres, Escobar, Ovalle; Barcenas, Gomez, Godoy, Quintero; Perez, Tejada.

Prediction: Belgium Win By Three Or More Goals (5/4)
Yes, it is the World Cup and this is the toughest stage of them all, but I simply cannot see past a routine win for the Red Devils. There’s no way that Panama can get a goal, leaving way Belgium to score three goals or more – which seems more than likely. Plenty of value there at 5/4 – get on!

Written by Jesse Nagel

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