World Cup 2018, Belgium vs Panama: Preview, Team News, Prediction, Head-to-Head & Key Stats
Group G gets underway tonight when confident Belgium take on Panama. Belgium seem to be favorites for today's game against Panama with a well-balanced side on their hand.
However, nothing can be predicted, as upsets are bound to happen much like how Mexico stunned the defending champions Germany.
Belgium will be without defenders Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen when they kick-off their World Cup Group G campaign against Panama tonight.
Panama captain Torres is expected to be fit after recovering from a hamstring injury while Gabriel Torres and veteran Blas Perez will battle for a starting spot up front.
Belgium vs Panama, Group G:
Match Date: 18 June 2018, Monday
Match Timing: 20:30 IST, 15:00 GMT
Match Venue: Fisht Stadium, Krasnodar Krai, Russia
Expected Crowd Turnout: With an opening clash of Group G on the cards, the Belgium vs Panama encounter is expected to be a house-full affair with a total crowd turnout of 49,700.
Head-to-head in World Cups
Belgium 0 - Panama 0. This is the first time that Panama and Belgium will be playing each other in a FIFA World Cup.
Belgium FIFA 2018 WC Squad:
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), and Koen Casteels (VfL Wolfsburg).
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Thomas Meunier (Paris Saint-Germain), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic), and Vincent Kompany (Manchester City).
Midfielders: Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Youri Tielemans (Monaco), and Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur).
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea/Dortmund), Yannick Carrasco (Dalian Yifang), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), and Dries Mertens (Napoli).
Probable Starting XI
Thibaut Courtois, Jan Vertonghen, Dedryck Boyata, Toby Alderweireld, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Thomas Meunier; Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard, and Romelu Lukaku.
Panama FIFA 2018 WC Squad:
Goalkeepers: Jaime Penedo (Dinamo Bucharest), Jose Calderon (Chorrillo FC), and Alex Rodriguez (San Francisco FC).
Defenders: Michael Murillo (New York Red Bulls), Harold Cummings (San Jose Earthquakes), Fidel Escobar (New York Red Bulls), Roman Torres (Seattle Sounders FC), Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo), Eric Davis (DAC Dunajska Streda), Luis Ovalle (CD Olimpia), and Felipe Baloy (CSD Municipal).
Midfielders: Gabriel Gomez (Atletico Bucaramanga), Edgar Barcenas (Cafetaleros de Tapachula), Armando Cooper (Club Universidad de Chile), Valentin Pimentel (Plaza Amador), Alberto Quintero (Universitario Lima), Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes), and Jose Luis Rodriguez (KAA Gent).
Forwards: Blas Perez (CSD Municipal), Gabriel Torres (CD Huachipato), Ismael Diaz (Deportivo La Coruña), Abdiel Arroyo (LD Alajuelense), and Luis Tejada (Sport Boys).
Probable Starting XI
Jaime Penedo, Roman Torres, Fidel Escobar, Eric Davis, Michael Murillo, Gabriel Gomez, Anibal Godoy, Armando Cooper, Edgar Barcenas, Jose Luis Rodriguez, and Blas Perez.
Stats to look into ahead of the encounter:
This will be the first ever encounter between Belgium and Panama.
The first European team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Belgium scored the joint-most goals in the UEFA qualifiers besides Germany (43). They were also one of four unbeaten teams, alongside England, Germany, and Spain.
Belgium is unbeaten in its last nine World Cup group games (W4 D5), winning each of their last four. They have made it to the second round in six of their last seven World Cup appearances; the only exception coming in 1998.
Romelu Lukaku scored 11 goals in eight games during the World Cup qualifiers, only Robert Lewandowski (16) and Cristiano Ronaldo (15) were more prolific among European sides.
Belgium vs Panama: Match Prediction
Predicted score: Belgium 4-0 Panama