Belgium v Panama
Monday, 16:00
Live on BBC

Belgium good for goals

While debate rages over just how good the Belgians really are, there's a consensus that they're very good at racking up the goals against weaker teams.
They showed it in qualifying when scoring 43 goals in 10 games and reminded us of their prowess with last week's 4-1 win Costa Rica, a team who England could only beat 2-0 a few days earlier.
That followed a 3-0 win over Egypt so this Golden Generation of Belgians are heading to Russia showing more impressive form than some of the other highly-touted sides.
This gentle opener looks the ideal way for Roberto Martinez's men to build early confidence for the harder tasks ahead.

Panama could tire as game goes on

Panama were rated the rank outsiders of this World Cup alongside Saudi Arabia so the Saudis' 5-0 defeat against Russia in the opening game doesn't bode well.
That said, Panama are physically stronger than the Saudis and won't have the same pretensions about trying to play the ball out from the back despite the overwhelming evidence of coughing up possession every 30 seconds.
A 6-0 friendly defeat to the Swiss is an obvious concern and, as they're are the oldest teamin the competition, it's easy to see Panama tiring late on and allowing Belgium to pick them off.
They qualified from the final CONCACAF group with a negative goal difference, scoring just nine goals in 10 games, so aren't likely to give Thibaut Courtois much to do.

Belgium shortest favourites so far

It's the most lopsided match of the tournament so far according to the odds, with Belgiumjust 1.19 for the win.
The Draw is 8.40 while Panama are 23.00 to pull off an almighty shock.

Stats support Lukaku double

While he helped himself to 11 goals in qualifying, it's his very latest form that prompts me to go big on Romelu Lukaku in these early group games.
The Manchester United striker has banged in eight goals in Belgium's six warm-up friendlies and bagged a brace three times.
Given the opposition, that makes it very easy to justify a punt on Lukaku to Score 2 Goals or more at 16/5 on the Sportsbook.
Using the new Same Game Multi feature in the Sportsbook, Lukaku first goalscorer and a 4-0 Belgium win can be combined to produce a 16/1 shot.

Red Devils can kick on after the break

A feature of Belgium's last World Cup campaign was that it took them a while to break teams down and all their goals came late.
Something that happened four years ago isn't the reason for a bet but it makes sense to expect something similar.
The tight spaces which Panama will try and maintain are bound to open up as their physical levels drop and then it's step forward Kevin De Bruyne and the rest to cash in and thread through the killer passes.

Key Opta Stats for Belgium v Panama

The first European team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Belgium scored the joint-most goals in the UEFA qualifiers alongside Germany (43). They were also one of four unbeaten teams, alongside England, Germany and Spain. Belgium are 1.18 to win.
Belgium are unbeaten in their last nine World Cup group games (W4 D5). The draw is 8.40.
Belgium have made it to the second round in six of their last seven World Cup appearances; the only exception coming in 1998. They are 1.11 to qualify from Group G.
Belgium have also only lost one of their last nine opening games at the World Cup (W5 D3), it was in 1986 (1-2 v Mexico). They are 1.61 to win half-time/full-time.
Belgium's last eight goals at the World Cup have all been scored from the 70th minute onwards. The draw half-time/Belgium full-time double result is 4.60.
In the CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, no Panama player scored more than two goals (Gabriel and Román Torres). In fact, Panama made it to Russia with a negative goal difference (-1), winning only three of their 10 games in the last round of CONCACAF qualifying. Under 2.5 goals is 2.34.
Kevin De Bruyne was directly involved in 50% of Belgium's goals at the 2014 World Cup, scoring one and assisting two of the Red Devils' six goals. De Bruyne is 3.20 to score.
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. Lukaku is 1.57 to find the net.
Meanwhile, this will be Hernán Darío Gómez's third World Cup with a third different team. He took charge of his home nation Colombia in 1998 and Ecuador in 2002, both times getting knocked out in the group stages. Panama are 1.57 to finish rock bottom of Group G.


2pts Romelu Lukaku to Score 2 Goals or more @ 16/5 (Sportsbook)
2pts Second Half to be the Half With Most Goals @ Evs (Sportsbook)

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