Belgium vs Panama World Cup 2018
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.
Belgium vs Panama Preview
We know that Belgium will be scoring goals in this match, which means there is an opportunity to take a look at the player markets – most notably the any time goal scorer and first goal scorer markets.
Romelu Lukaku appears to be set for the starting central forward position after he scored 11 of his side’s 43 goals during qualification. The Manchester United striker has tremendous ability, and is almost certain to score against Panama given his recent form.
Eden Hazard is another name that stands out on the Belgian team sheet, and he is likely to be one of the first names picked by Roberto Martinez. Hazard scored six during qualification, and he has been emphatic for Chelsea for a number of years.
The last name we will throw into the discussion is Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne. While he is more likely to be the one assisting the likes of Lukaku and Hazard with those pinpoint cross-field passes, he is no stranger to scoring goals himself.
Blas Pérez and Luis Tejada are the names to consider if you think Panama can get on the scoresheet in this match, and the any time goal scorer market is perhaps the only consideration as any goal for the Central Americans is likely to be a consolation late in the match.
You could also consider Roman Torres if you think Panama are a chance from set pieces. The Seattle Sounders defender has scored ten goals in just over 100 appearances, which is not a bad return for a centre-back.
Remember to always check the final lineups before placing any bets on the player markets, and in fact for any bet you place – you never know who might pull out late from a match.
Head to Head Alternatives
Belgian’s expected dominance has been reflected through their clear favouritism, which unfortunately means they offer little value in the head to head market. While you could parlay this match into another couple of sure bets (Germany, France and Brazil spring to mind), you’re still going to be limited in terms of output.
There are a number of alternatives. We have already mentioned that we think Belgium will score a few goals, so the over/under market is looking likely to go beyond the 2.5 goal split. At -133, the odds available for 3 or more goals in the match looks to be a great option.
You can also increase your odds by placing a wager on the half-time/full-time market. ‘Belgium – Belgium’ is the favourite here at -164, which again is great value considering the high chance of Belgium taking the lead before half-time and continuing on to win the match.
If you think Belgium will keep a clean sheet, you can get -196 for ‘Belgium only’ in the ‘which teams will score?’ market, assuming that the game doesn’t finish in a 0-0 draw.
Finally, it’s always worth having a go at picking the correct score. This match is tough as there is really no telling how many the Belgians will score, which means you will get huge odds on a selection of Belgian winning margins. The 4-0 victory is paying +787.
Group G Betting Odds