Belgium are one of the more fancied teams in Russia at the World Cup and they begin their tournament against Panama on Monday, who are at the finals for the first time. The European side will begin as huge favourites given the talent they have on the pitch which includes the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku and many, many more.
The underdogs will make it physical and are sure to be aggressive as they look to disrupt Belgium but the reality is that Roberto Martinez’ men will dominate possession and it will be very tough for Panama to keep them out. Group G looks relatively straightforward to call, with England and Tunisia making up the teams, and Belgium will expect to begin with a resounding win and they will know goal difference could be important as they battle it out with England for top spot.
Here we will give you Belgium vs Panama betting tips, look at where the game will be won, the key men and a Belgium vs Panama prediction for the Group G opener.
Our Belgium vs Panama prediction: Belgium 4-0 Panama
Our Belgium vs Panama prediction tips is for the European side to record a comfortable victory and begin their World Cup in style.
Essentially, there is a majot gulf in class between the sides and it should be evident from the first whistle in Sochi on Monday. Martinez adopts a very, very attacking 3-4-3 formation and whilst it may not be suited to playing against the better teams, they could run riot against weaker opposition. De Bruyne, Hazard, Dries Mertens and Lukaku offer some superb options in the final third and Panama will struggle to live with their movement, speed and skill. Belgium are relentless in their style and it could be a long afternoon for the debutants.
The gameplan for the Central Americans will be clear. To defend in numbers and restrict the space for Belgium and even if they want to be more adventurous it’s likely they will be forced to do that anyway. They are direct in their play and could cause problems from set-pieces and long-balls but you can’t see them sustaining attacks. In reality, they have already overachieved in reaching Russia.
Our recommended tip – Belgium -2
Belgium were ruthless in qualifying and scored over four goals a game in those ten games which should seriously worry Panama. As mentioned, they are very attack-minded and clearly know how to make light work of weaker sides. And, Panama are the weakest side in the group.
Therefore, we think the Red Devils could run riot but will back them to win by three or more, which is what the -2 handicap covers. They have goals all over the pitch, they will tire out Panama with their possession and chances will come by easily. There’s a massive difference between the sides and it should show.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given this is Panama’s first World Cup, it’s also the first time they will have met Belgium when they kick-off at 16:00 in Sochi.
And, they will be facing a Belgium side that have been flying recently. They haven’t lost a game since 2016 and impressed in recent warm up matches for Russia. They thrashed Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Costa Rica whilst they were held by Portugal. However, those big wins over the three weaker sides will concern Panama.
They head into the game in contrasting form. Panama have just one win in seven and a 6-0 thumping against Switzerland in March shows how far they are from good sides. Additionally, Los Canaleros have scored just once in their last five against what has been relatively modest opposition.
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Players to watch – Eden Hazard & Romelu Lukaku
Given the dominance we expect Belgium to have in this game, we’ve picked two of their players to be the key men on Monday and they are both attackers. Hazard is the key man and is given a license to roam in the 3-4-3 formation and there is big expectations around him. Whilst his tournament will be judged on how he does against the better sides, he would like to get off to a good start and this will give him a chance to get some goals and assists to his name.
Similarly, Lukaku has been the main man for Belgium in terms of leading the line but there is always a pressure on the striker at a tournament and he too will see Panama as an ideal opponent to get off the mark. He will get chances and it’s a good chance to build his confidence.