header decal

News

17 Jun 2018

Belgium vs Panama: 5 things to look forward to

Belgium vs Panama: 5 things to look forward to

Roberto Martinez's Belgian time get an easy start against the World Cup debutants.

Reuters/FRANCOIS LENOIR

After a string of disappointing tournaments, Belgium gets another chance to do themselves justice in Russia. After sacking Marc Wilmots following the cataclysmic defeat to Wales at Euro 2016, this is their first tournament with former Everton and Wigan manager Roberto Martinez. 

He had them qualifying well, and they recorded big wins against inferior opposition, and bar a major upset that should continue here. 

Panama upset the odds to make it here, debuting in Russia alongside Iceland.

Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany have both suffered knocks for Belgium in their preparations for this tournament but should be fit enough to feature here, though, given the opposition and Kompany's history of breaking down, Martinez might wait to use him. 

Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen will definitely feature at the back, ahead of Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois. Offensively, other Premier League standouts Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne will almost certainly start, with Dries Mertens and Yannick Carrasco likely. 

Panama's injury concern is midfielder Jose Luis Rodriguez, but he has since returned to training.

Here are five things to look forward to: