There are a few matches in the group stage of this year’s World Cup that are guaranteed to go a certain way and this is definitely one of them. Belgium boast one of the best squads in the world at present, with a golden generation of talent ready to have a shot at the biggest trophy in the sport.
Panama on the other hand managed to scrape through to the finals ahead of the USA and the thrill of competing in their first ever World Cup will have to suffice as they have next to no chance of making it out of the group stage. They will simply be no match for the Belgians here.
Belgium blitzed qualification, albeit in what was a fairly easy group with the likes of Cyprus, Estonia and Gibraltar there to make up the numbers more than anything. They scored a record-equalling 43 goals throughout their campaign, and conceded just six times to ensure they were one of the first European nations to book their place in Russia.
The fanfare in Panama was infectious as a barely believable sequence of events unfolded on the final day of the CONCACAF Hexagonal, and in truth Panama’s appearance at the tournament is a great reward for what is also a golden generation in the Central American nation. They will take one of the most experienced squads in terms of international caps to the World Cup.
But there will be no surprises in this match. The only variable is the number of goals that Belgium can possibly score against a side that has a good defence but not one to match the precocious talent they possess. We can’t imagine that Panama will score a goal, despite boasting two strikers with 86 international goals between them, and it’s worrying that they have scored just once in five 2018 matches.
Although Panama were close in four of their pre-tournament friendlies, it is a worry that they were beaten 6-0 by Switzerland. Belgium are a better side and could really hurt the Central Americans here.
Belgium are at unsurprisingly short odds to win this match, starting at -606. You will get +577 for the draw and +1800 for the unlikeliest of victories for Panama.
We are putting our money on the Belgians, and we think a 4-0 scoreline is not out of the question here.