Group G of the World Cup in Russia kicks off on June 18th with Belgium taking on Panama. Belgium are expected to step up and be one of the favorites for the tournament, while Panama are just happy to be here for the first time.
What To Know About Belgium
Belgium went to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2014, and they fell out in the same around at the 2016 European Championships. Belgium romped to an easy group win in UEFA to get here. They have a wealth of talent, starting up front with captain Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, although Hazard is allowed to drift back into midfield. There, Belgium has Kevin De Bruyne, who is coming off a wonderful season with Manchester City. There are also Radja Nainggolan, Marouane Fellaini and Mousa Dembele. Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen play in central defense with Tottenham, but Alderweireld has been having problems with the club and could be replaced by Vincent Kompany, depending on his health. The biggest question comes in goal, where Thibault Courtois played all ten qualification games, but he was left off the last squad and if he doesn’t play, then it is Simon Mignolet. That shouldn’t be encouraging for Belgium as the drop-off from Courtois to Mignolet is significant.
What To Know About Panama
This is Panama’s first trip to the World Cup, and they finished third in CONCACAF to get here. There are a few questions surrounding this Panama team as their last squad called up for friendly matches was filled with inexperienced players; keeper Jose Calderon’s 30 appearances led the way and the players called up combined for seven goals. However, there are players that were left off that are very experienced and they might be resting before the World Cup due to their age. Forwards Blas Perez and Luis Tejada have 86 goals and 220 appearances between them, but they’re also 37 and 36 years old, respectively. Midfielder Gabriel Gomez has 142 appearances and he should be going to Russia, along with midfielder Armando Cooper. Captain Felipe Baloy and Roman Torres have combined for 210 appearances and keeper Jaime Penedo has 136 appearances. The experience is there for Panama if they bring these players; however, they are definitely overmatched for this game.
Belgium are massive favorites for this match at 1.16, while Panama comes in at 15.00 and a draw is at 7.00. This is the first time that these two have met, and strangely this match is more important to Belgium. They have the better team and not only should they win this game, but they should win it convincingly. Belgium definitely underwhelmed at the European Championships and most of their top players are in or approaching their prime. They have to come out and take care of business against Panama, who aren’t going to back down from Belgium and will likely pack the midfield. Belgium also has to sort out their issues in goal, but it shouldn’t be a factor for this game.
World Cup Betting Pick: Belgium
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