The opening clash of Group G will see Belgium come up against Panama at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, where the 2014 Winter Olympics took place.
What’s their current form?
After losing their first game of the 2016-17 season to Spain 2-0, Belgium have been undefeated since, scoring 13 wins and 6 draws. In 2018 they beat Saudi Arabia 4-0 and Egypt 3-0 while also playing out scoreless draws with Portugal and Costa Rica.
Since qualifying for the World Cup, Panama has scored just two wins; 5-0 v Grenada and 1-0 v Trinidad and Tobago, while playing out draws with Wales and Northern Ireland. They’ve lost 2-1 to Iran; 1-0 to Denmark; 6-0 to Switzerland and in their most recent game just over a week ago, they lost 1-0 to Norway.
Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Boyata, Vertonghen; Meunier, de Bruyne, Witsel, Carrasco; Mertens, Lukaku, Hazard.
Panama: Penedo; Machado, Torres, Escobar, Davis; Gomez; Barcenas, Godoy, Cooper, Rodriguez; Perez.
Any interesting facts I should know?
Belgium stormed through qualifying, winning 9 of their ten games and drawing the other, amassing 43 goals and letting just 6 through. Panama snuck in on goals difference, being 5 goals better than Honduras who finished on the same points.
What should I be betting on?
Belgium to win comfortably.
Has the time finally arrive for Belgium’s ‘golden generation’??? They couldn’t ask for a better opening opponent and The Wolf says they will take full advantage. Panama have registered just a single win from their last 7 games and that cam against Trinidad and Tobago. The 1-0 win was also the only goal they have scored in their last 5 matches. Belgium on the other hand have been on fire! They have gone 19 matches without defeat – a run that includes 10 clean sheets. They averaged 4.3 goals per game in qualifying – equal most alongside Germany. They have really turned it on against lower ranked opponents and Panama falls right into that category. This is their first appearance at the World Cup and they about to see the difference in level between CONCACAF and one of Europe’s best. De Buryne and Witsel will take complete control in the centre of the park which will allow the trio of Hazard, Maunier and Lukaku to run riot. The Wolf is backnig Belgium to put on a clinic!
TV channel, kick-off time, betting odds, tips, live stream and team news
What time is kick off? The game starts at 6pm (local time) on June 18. In Australia, kick-off will be at 1am on June 19th.
What TV Channel is it on and can I live stream it? In Australia, the only network with live broadcast rights is SBS. SBS Radio will also cover games that aren’t broadcast. Optus Sport in Australia will broadcast every game live as well via live streaming, however it will be available to subscribers only.
What’s the team news and who’s injured? Belgium will be without Batshuayi for this game as he overcomes an ankle injury which threatened to end his World Cup campaign. He is expected to be ready for later games. Panama has no injury concerns.
Who’s the referee? Not yet announced.
What happened the last time they played each other? This will be the first time these two sides will come up against each other.