The first game of the Group G between Belgium and Panama will take place at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi on June 18th. The Red Devils are labeled as the favorites in the group along with England, while Panama is a huge outsider, and even a single point at the World Cup would be a huge success for the debutants.
Belgium vs. Panama
Three-Way: 1: Belgium -714; X: +650 Draw; 2: Panama +1800 at BetDSI Sportsbook
Spread -2: Belgium +106; Panama -116
Total 2.5 goals: Over -133; Under +110
The Red Devils qualified for their 13th World Cup and after missing out on Germany 2006 and South Africa in 2010, Belgium made it to the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they are hoping to make a step forward this time around. The fourth place in 1986 is Belgium’s best record at world championships, and the semi-final is the realistic goal, so they are massive favorites to start with three points.
Roberto Martinez has one of the strongest squads at the World Cup, but he will be without the midfield dynamo Radja Nainggolan who was not picked to go with the team to Russia, and Roma’s player decided to retire from the national side. Belgium has world-class players in all four parts of the team and with the attack consisted of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, and Dries Mertens, the Red Devils can outscore any opponents.
One of the best midfielders on the planet, Kevin De Bruyne, will be the major creative force and will feed the forwards with his phenomenal passes that made them the best assist-maker in the Premier League, while Mousa Dembélé and Axel Witsel will be there to help him in the middle of the park. The defense is rock-solid as Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, and Toby Alderweireld have a fantastic understanding and great chemistry, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Belgium finishes the group stage without conceding a single goal with Thibaut Courtois between the sticks.
Belgium is without a defeat in the last 18 matches including the last five friendly games, keeping the net intact in the previous four, so it’s going to be extremely hard for Panama to find the back of the net on this one.
The Canal Men are one of two debutants at this year’s edition of the World Cup (alongside Iceland), and just a qualification to Russia was a dream come true for Panama, so nobody expects them to play a significant part in the tournament, which means they will be relaxed and will perform without a pressure unlike Belgium and England.
Hernán Darío Gómez selected the best 23 players available to him, and although there are only five players who currently play a minor role in small European clubs, Panama has several experienced individuals who are the leaders of this side.
Blas Pérez and Luis Tejada are the go-to guys in the attack as they combined for 86 goals for Panama, but the interesting thing is that they scored 43 goals each and are already in their late thirties, so it’s evident that this tournament will be their last for the national team. Whoever scores in Russia will become Panama’s all-time top scorer, while the midfielder Gabriel Gómez is an absolute record holder when it comes to international caps as he played 144 times for the Canal Men. Still, one of the oldest teams at the World Cup will likely struggle with fitness and tiredness late in the game as they have even nine players over 30 years old.
Panama played five international friendlies this spring, winning one and losing three, but the efficiency is highly concerning as they scored just one goal in the span, and it was against the weak Trinidad & Tobago, so scoring against Belgium here would be a miracle.
The first meeting between these sides will probably produce a bunch of goals in Panama’s net as I believe the Belgians will start the World Cup furiously and will score at least two or three on this one. Panama has no chance in this tilt and it will be hard to contain Lukaku and Hazard in the offense, so I am backing the Red Devils to destroy the sorry Canal Men.
The Pick: Belgium AH -2 (+106)