The new ‘Golden Generation’ of Belgium will be kick-starting their campaign against Panama who would be looking to make their mark in their first ever World Cup adventure. Belgium will be heading into this fixture with some serious momentum after their impressive performances in their UEFA qualifying campaign and warm up friendlies. On the other hand, Panama would be circumspect of this talented Belgium squad and would be flurried to keep things compact at the back especially after their neighbours Los Ticos lost 4-1 to the same Belgian squad just a week ago.
● Match Details:
○ Date: 18th April 2018
○ Time: 15:00 GMT/11:00 ET/20:30 IST
○ Venue: Fisht Stadium
○ Broadcast: Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 3, Sony ESPN
○Live Streaming : Sony Liv app
● Team News :
Belguim would be missing the services of their leader Vincent Kompany who has been ruled out for this game and with Barcelona man Thomas Vermaelen who is also catering an injury, the 27-year-old Dedryck Boyata would be making his way into three-man defence alongside the Tottenham duo Toby Alderweild and Jan Vertogen. Roberto Martinez would be looking to start their tournament with a 3-4-3 formation, with a three-man defence and fielding Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Meunier on the wings. The front three would be consisting of Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku.
For Panama, this debut game at World Cup represents the most significant match in their history. Their first ever opponents at the World Cup consists of a number of skilful attacking players, but Los Canaleros will be adamant to show their best by building on their defensive diligence and tactical regimen, while looking to get forward whenever they find a break.
● Lineups :
○ Belgium :
Thibaut Courtois, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweild, Dedryck Boyata, Yannick Carrasco, Thomas Meunier, Mousa Dembele, Kevin De Bruyne, Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku.
○ Panama :
Jamie Panedo, Ricardo avilla, Luis Ovalle, Fidel Escobar, Felipe Baloy, Michael Murillo, Mauel Vargas, Leslie Heraldez, Armando Cooper, Blas Perez.
● Recent Form :
○ Belgium: W W D W W
○ Panama : L L W D L
● Coach’s Quote :
○ Roberto Martinez (Belgium): “England and ourselves are going into games that everyone expects us to win. That’s a very dangerous role. Panama knocked the USA out of the World Cup [qualification]. They believe they can achieve things that have never been achieved in Panamanian football before. They are aggressive and well-disciplined in their defensive duties, but they’ve got enough talent to attack and hurt you”.
○ Hernán Darío (Panama) : “I’m happy in Panama, the people show us affection: they love and respect the national team and what we have done,” Gomez told The Guardian in a recent interview.
“There’s lots of love at the moment. I feel as if it was the first time. I feel happy and proud. I would say to the people: enjoy it, it’s high tide, we have a lot to learn, have a good time and be happy.”
● Writers Take :
Belgium will not only be looking to get the three points out of this fixture but they would be also looking to put up a performance that can provide fuel to generate the momentum and a great start to the tournament that would be giving them a platform to continue their journey much further in this competition. Panama would be heading into this fixture with an abysmal record of not scoring in 5 of their last 6 international games and the only team they have scored against is Trinidad and Belgium is no Trinidad. On the other hand, Belgium have scored at least three goals in 6 of their last 8 games.