Joey - June 13, 2018
Belgium vs Panama
FIFA World Cup 2018 Group G
Date: Monday, 18 June 2018
Kick-Off at 16:00 UK / 17:00 CET
Venue: Olimpiyskiy Stadion Fisht, Sochi.
Belgium kick off their World Cup campaign on Monday, June 18th. They are to play arguably the weakest side in the entire tournament in their opening fixture.
Roberto Martinez will be under a massive pressure in Russia as he has the honour of leading the golden generation of Belgian players. The Red Devils enter the competition as one of the shadow favourites to go all the way this summer, but can the star-studded line-up live up to the ambitions?
The opening match will not produce the answer to that given the European hopefuls are to take on the likes of Panama. Los Canaleros are actually the only debutants in this edition of the tournament having shockingly secured their tickets for Russia on the expense of United States who only came fifth at the end of the final round in the CONCACAF qualifying zone.
Panama managed a huge comeback to secure the 2-1 victory over Costa Rica thanks to the 87th-minute match winner on the final day. United States lost their away fixture to Trinidad & Tobago with the same result even though their counterparts had already lost all hopes of qualifying.
Panama have played eight friendly outings ever since, winning only two in the process. The lack of the attacking potential is obvious and one should not be shocked to learn that they’ve only scored once in last five internationals. The main strength for Los Canaleros is their head coach Hernan Gomez who has the World Cup experience having led Colombia and Ecuador at the big stage competitions back in 1998 and 2002.
Belgium definitely do not share similar woes with the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens in their ranks. They have the world-class quality all over the place, starting from Thibaut Courtois to Romelu Lukaku. They boasted the best attacking record in the European Qualification zone having bagged as many as 43 goals in 10 matches.
Manchester United’s star Romelu Lukaku notched 11 of 43, while Chelsea’s Eden Hazard contributed with six goals and five assists along the way.
The second match of the Group G presents England against Tunisia, an hour after the conclusion of this game.
Courtois – Alderweireld, Boyata/Ciman, Vertonghen – Meunier, Carrasco, Witsel, De Bruyne – Mertens, Eden Hazard – Lukaku.
Penedo – Roman Torres, Escobar, Machado, Ovalle, Murillo – Gomez, Quintero, Barcenas, Godoy – Gabriel Torres.
This will only be the first ever head to head encounter between Belgium and Panama.
The Belgian attacking line is full of talent which was never exploited to the max under Marc Wilmots who led the team to underwhelming campaigns four years ago in Brazil and two years later at EURO in France. Panama just can’t be a match to such squad and the visitors could be even happy with the loss by less than four goals difference here given the realistic gulf in quality between the two.
Los Canaleros revealed their defensive holes in a demolishing 6-0 defeat to Switzerland in March, while they failed to find the back of the net in back-to-back clashes with European WC absentees Northern Ireland and Norway in recent warm-ups. Belgium to keep a clean sheet should thus be a banker bet at the odds of 1.36, but we will try and grab the highest value chasing bets with higher odds.
Belgium to win by three or more goals is definitely such, a must-take at 2.45. We expect Martinez’s side to push strong from the get go and bag at least two goals in the opening 45 minutes. You can have Belgium to have at least a two-gaol cushion on the break at the sky-high 3.30 odds.
Predicted Full-Time Result is a clean sheet victory for Belgium in what could be a disastrous defeat for Panama.