The clash between Belgium and Panama will be played at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi on June 18th. The Red Devils shouldn’t have problems to defeat the debutants at the World Cup and also to progress to the Round of 16 as the competition is not quite tough, except for England, while the third opponent in the group is Tunisia. Panama can relax and enjoy their first-ever World Cup as they don’t have an imperative to win here.
Belgium vs. Panama
Three-Way: 1: Belgium -556; X: +650 Draw; 2: Panama +2000 (Odds provided by Delaware Park Sportsbook)
Spread -2: Belgium -101; Panama -106
Total 2.5 goals: Over -141; Under +131
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The road to the World Cup
Belgium qualified to their 13th World Cup and they are hoping to make a step forward following the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil, and it seems that the Round of 16 is guaranteed in a weak competition in the Group G. The Red Devils’ biggest success at the tournament was the 4th place in Mexico 1986, the only time when they were in a situation to win a medal.
On the other hand, The Canal Men made it to their first World Cup and they are the only debutants in Russia alongside Iceland, so one of the weakest teams in the competition will get a whole new experience of playing at the world’s biggest stage.
Roberto Martínez’s side is without a defeat in the last 20 months since the 2-0 loss to Spain in a friendly back in September 2016. Belgium recorded 14 wins and five draws and ended the qualifications without a single loss, while they played six friendlies as a preparation for the World Cup, winning four with a pair of draws. The Red Devils scored seven goals in the last two matches against Egypt and Costa Rica, while the defense allowed just one goal in the previous five.
Hernán Darío Gómez’s team participated in eight friendlies prior to the World Cup and won two with four defeats, but these two victories were against the opponents even weaker than Panama as they beat Grenada and Trinidad & Tobago. Panama faced three European teams recently and lost all three to Denmark, Switzerland, and Norway, failing to score a single goal in the process.
Players to watch
Belgium’s captain Eden Hazard has the potential to finish among the best eleven at this tournament, but his commanding display is expected here, and Chelsea forward has the quality to beat Panama singlehandedly.
Panama’s legendary striker Blas Pérez could get an opportunity or two to score against Thibaut Courtois, and he is competing with the teammate Luis Tejada who will become the country’s all-time leading scorer as both bagged 43 goals thus far.
- Belgium scored at least a goal in all but one out of the last 34 games
- Belgium kept the clean sheet in four out of the previous five matches
- Panama didn’t score in four out of the last five games
- Panama scored just one goal in the previous five matches
These sides never met before and after all what we saw in the opening game of the tournament when Russia dismantled sorry Saudi Arabia, I can see a similar thing to happen on this one. The Belgians might not score five, but they should score at least three, while I don’t believe they will allow a goal, so I am backing the Red Devils to win big.
The Pick: Belgium AH -2 (-101)