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Preview: Belgium v Panama

Preview: Belgium v Panama

The opening match in Group G promises to deliver a fascinating contrast of styles. Belgium, for their part, go into the game with serious momentum after some impressive performances in their warm-up friendlies, and coach Roberto Martinez boasts a talented generation at the peak of its powers. His players bring solid international experience as well, with the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and UEFA EURO 2016 under their belts, and they now hope to reach a whole new level in Russia.

As for Panama, they are set to embark on their first ever World Cup adventure but have no intention of giving Les Diables Rouges Red Devils an easy start. Coach Hernan Dario Gomez is wary of Belgium's firepower and will be anxious for his side to keep things tight at the back, especially since neighbours Costa Rica suffered a heavy 4-1 loss to the European hopefuls in a friendly on 11 June.

Team Reporter Analysis

Simon Massart, Belgium Follow: Twitter Facebook
Roberto Martinez is expected to begin the tournament with a 3-4-2-1 formation, fielding a three-man defence and tasking Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Meunier with patrolling the flanks. Meanwhile, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens will look to provide service for Romelu Lukaku and leave heads spinning in the Panama defence as often as possible.

Belgium's Russia 2018 photo session
1 / 10 Belgium's Russia 2018 photo session
1 / 10 Belgium's Russia 2018 photo session
Belgium's Russia 2018 photo session
1 / 10 Belgium Portraits - Michy Batshuayi

14 Jun 2018

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 14: Michy Batshuayi of Belgium poses during the official FIFA World Cup 2018 portrait session at the Moscow Country Club on June 14, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. Photo by David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Getty Images

Belgium Portraits - Michy Batshuayi

14 Jun 2018

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 14: Michy Batshuayi of Belgium poses during the official FIFA World Cup 2018 portrait session at the Moscow Country Club on June 14, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. Photo by David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Getty Images

Belgium Portraits - Michy Batshuayi Belgium Portraits - Michy Batshuayi