Belgium vs. Panama – Preview, Predictions and Betting Tips
Much ended in the result 3-0
|Belgium 1.16 | Draw 6.81 | Panama 21.00|
Highly-fancied Belgium begin their World Cup campaign at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi on Monday afternoon when they take on tournament newcomers Panama.
The Belgians were tipped to make waves at both the last World Cup and the 2016 European Championships in France. But despite a plethora of top talent, the Red Devils could only make the quarter-finals of both competitions and serious questions now linger about the mentality of the players.
Roberto Martinez’s side qualified at a canter with 28 points from 30 available and the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens head to Russia on the back of good seasons with their clubs. If those two fire, along with Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, breaking past the last eight barrier is a very reasonable aim.
But there are issues. Axel Witsel and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco have surrendered the competitiveness of European football in favour of a Chinese jaunt. Thomas Vermaelen, Thomas Meunier and others can’t break into their club starting XIs. And Vincent Kompany always seems to be on the cusp of a new injury.
Panama qualified for their first ever World Cup finals in dramatic style, beating Costa Rica 2-1 to send the Central American minnows into a frenzy. Los Canaleros are expected to be the whipping boys of Group G but they have collected hard-fought draws with the United States, Wales and Northern Ireland over the past 12 months.
It’s almost impossible to look past Belgium for this match and the bookmakers anticipate a comfortable win for Martinez’s men. With the Red Devils at just 1/9 to pick up the three points with William Hill, punters will have to delve deeper into the markets to find any real value.
Belgium are at 8/15 to win and keep a clean sheet with Ladbrokes and, while those are short odds, that may well be a wise bet given Panama’s inability to find the back of the net on a regular basis during qualifying.
In addition, Belgium can be backed at 11/10 with Betway to win both the first and second half in isolation – another option for punters expecting a walkover.
- Panama have reached the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup four times this century
- Dries Mertens has scored 58 goals for Serie A club Napoli over the last two seasons –
- Mertens to score first – 24/5
- Belgium’s 9-0 drubbing of Gibraltar was the biggest win throughout the whole of UEFA qualifying
- Belgium -3 – 9/2
- Belgium’s nine wins and a draw was their best ever World Cup qualification campaign
- Panama scored just nine goals in the final round of qualification – just two more than bottom side Trinidad and Tobago
- Belgium to win to nil – 8/15
Belgium: Eden Hazard (captain), Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku, Yannick Carrasco, Simon Mignolet, Koen Casteels, Dries Mertens, Thomas Meunier, Thorgan Hazard, Youri Tielemans, Adnan Januzaj, Mousa Dembélé, Dedryck Boyata, Michy Batshuayi, Nacer Chadli, Leander Dendoncker.
Panama: Jaime Penedo, Michael Amir Murillo, Harold Cummings, Fidel Escobar, Román Torres, Gabriel Gómez, Blas Pérez, Édgar Bárcenas, Gabriel Torres, Ismael Díaz, Armando Cooper, José Calderón, Adolfo Machado, Valentín Pimentel, Erick Davis, Abdiel Arroyo, Luis Ovalle, Luis Tejada, Alberto Quintero, Aníbal Godoy, José Luis Rodríguez, Álex Rodríguez, Felipe Baloy (captain).