By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 5th July 2018
Panama centre-half Roman Torres has predicted tears of pride will flow among his teammates as their anthem sounds before they take on Belgium, however there may have been weeping of a more rueful nature post-match, after Los Canaleros were soundly beaten 3-0.
Having progressed through the group stages and beyond Japan in the last 16, Belgium will take on Brazil in the 2018 World Cup quarter finals.
Roberto Martinez’s Belgians are just 2/11 to prevail over a Panamanian side that qualified for their first World Cup by finishing third in the fifth round group of CONCACAF qualifying.
The Central American side are a whopping 18/1 to guild their maiden finals outing with a victory.
Experienced defenders Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen remain absent for Belgium through injury, with Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata expected to continue to deputise in the former’s absence.
Not that the Rode Duivels are likely to need to be at their most defensively stringent against Panama, who achieved the rare feat of qualifying for the tournament with a negative goal difference.
Belgium, on the other hand, notched a record-equaling 43 goals across their ten qualifying games, with Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku hitting two more than their opponents conjured altogether.
First Goalscorer odds
Lukaku is 12/5 favourite to score first against Panama or 4/6 to notch anytime. Not a terrible price about a man who has struck 13 times in his last nine internationals, including the opener in three of his last four outings for his country.
It goes without saying that Panama will be playing with immense pride and the converse of their poor goal-scoring record in qualifying is that their defence played a big role in getting them to Russia.
Los Canaleros shut out Mexico and the USA on home soil, as well as beating Costa Rica 2-1 in the match that booked their ticket to the finals, so there’s clearly a stubborn streak in Hernan Dario Gomez’s men that could see them stop their more illustrious foes from running riot.
Total Belgium Goals
That Belgium are only 1/4 to hit under 3.5 goals is a reflection of this, but given they smashed four past Costa Rica, who topped Panama’s qualifying group, in a friendly a week ago, the 11/4 about the Rode Duivels bagging over 3.5 goals could be a more persuasive wager.