Betting tip World Cup 2018: Belgium - Panama

Monday, 18.06.2018 at 17:00 o’clock (CET)

Belgium the clear favorite

In our mind, Belgium is one of the favorites, if not at least an inside tip, to take home the title from Russia. These Central Europeans begin the tournament with one of the easiest challenges to overcome, or so it would seem, as they go up against the World Cup rookies from Panama. For this match in Group G, as usual we provide you with all of the most important information within the framework of our World Cup betting tips. This match kicks off on June 18 at 5 PM (CET).

Belgium

  • significantly better squad
  • enormously adaptable offensively
  • opponent with problems up front

Panama

  • pressure is clearly on Belgium
  • defense has mostly been very stable in 2018

Current Form of Belgium

Especially on the national level, Belgian football has developed enormously in recent years. Nowadays, Roberto Martinez’s squad is studded with world-class players, with a seemingly never-ending cast of high-class performers. No surprise, then, that we see them in the role of clear favorites in this first match against Panama. However, because of the low odds, we advise against a bet on Belgium winning, especially when we take into consideration the offensive strength of these group favorites, whereas an over/under selection on more than 2.5 or even 3.5 goals would appear a far better choice. This was demonstrated for all to see by the Belgians’ final dress rehearsal coming into this World Cup. Just last Monday, the Belgians beat the team from Costa Rica clearly and convincingly by a score of 4:1, a result which we correctly forecast in the form of a half-time bet on the Martinez squad, with Belgium already leading 2:1 after 45 minutes. A clear strength: This team was also able to come from behind, after going down 0:1 24 minutes into the match. Just how strong the Belgian attack is capable of being was clearly indicated by no fewer than 9 shots in the course of this duel with the Central Americans, of which almost 50% were converted. Defensively, too, they had barely any problems with their opponent, allowing Costa Rica just one shot on goal in the entire 90 minutes. And because we see that final test opponent as somewhat stronger than Panama, it would be reasonable to assume a Belgian victory without them conceding a goal-against, which would drive the odds even higher. Star striker Romelu Lukaku has shown he is in top form, scoring a brace against Costa Rica, with Batshuayi and Mertens also hitting the back of the net. Overall, Belgium is enormously adaptable offensively, making them very difficult for opponents to predict. One problem we recognized with this cofavorite with respect to their performance in previous tournaments: In important matches, they weren’t able to deliver what was expected of them, as we saw in their elimination at the hands of Wales in the recent European Championships. Frequently, it seems as if the outstanding individual players are not able to quite function as a team. However, that wasn’t evident during qualifying for Russia by any means: Belgium finished unbeaten at the top of Group H, having celebrated 9 wins, settling for just one draw, and scoring 43 goals in the process, making them one of the best attacking teams in the entire UEFA campaign, and yet again clearly indicating the wisdom of an over/under bet on Monday’s match. Prior to that victory against Costa Rica, they also recorded a 3:0 victory over Egypt, a 0:0 against Portugal and a 4:1 win over Saudi Arabia. Needless to say, anything other than a victory against underdogs Panama would be an enormous surprise.

Current Form of Panama

Panama is probably the biggest underdog we will encounter at the World Cup in Russia. For the most part, it is difficult to predict matches involving these Central Americans since information about the team is sparse. Nonetheless, we wish to mention a few factors that speak for or against Panama. Let us begin with the downsides: Firstly, we cannot avoid the fact that this is a significantly weaker squad when compared to the Belgians. Barely a single player on the Panama team earns a salary in a league renowned for high tempo and intensity. Yet another disadvantage: Hernan Gomez’s team has never had any kind of experience in a tournament as big as this, meaning they will be entering a whole new world come Monday. Similarly, the matches they played in preparation for the World Cup did not give us any hope for a sensation in their opening match. Especially when it comes to their attack, Panama simply does not have the quality it takes to go head-to-head with the big boys. In fact, in 4 of the 5 internationals they played in 2018 they went scoreless. The one exception was against Trinidad, thus representing their only success in 2018 (1:0). Immediately preceding Russia, they did manage a 0:0 against Northern Ireland as well as a narrow 0:1 defeat against Norway. However, Belgium is far superior to both of those opponents. Nonetheless, they have demonstrated they can compete against stronger teams on occasion, as shown by a 0:1 against Denmark, whereas against Switzerland at the end of March they were taught a painful 0:6 lesson. But we should point out that this was the only match in 2018 when Panama gave up more than one goal. Which means, clearly the Gomez squad is focused on fielding a stable defense and will likely set up a defensive wall at the outset of this World Cup, attempting to keep the score 0:0 for as long as possible. One of their key players is, beyond a doubt, veteran keeper Jaime Penedeo, who is under contract with Dinamo Bukarest, whereas offensively, only Ismael Diaz who plays on the second team of Deportivo La Corunas, is truly worthy of note. During qualifying, Panama competed against teams from Mexico, Costa Rica as well as the USA, ultimately designating the last of those to the World Cup sidelines. The team’s focus on a solid defense is reflected in 10 goals-against in 10 matches, the third-best performance in the group phase, giving them a third-place finish. Offensively, in these 10 duels they scored only a very meager 9 goals, making a win-to-0 success on the part of Belgium even more likely.

Prediction and Betting Tip

As we said: Anything other than the Belgian victory would surprise us enormously. After analyzing the odds, we feel a bet on more than 2.5 goals represents the ideal middle road between risk and probability, with average odds for this type of bet being quoted at 1.89. Hence our recommendation: over 2.5 goals.

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