Tournament: World Cup
Stage: Group G
Referee: Janny Sikazwe
Stadium: Fisht Olympic Stadium
Match Date: Monday, June 18, 2018
DID YOU KNOW?
This will be the first ever encounter between Belgium and Panama.
This is Belgium’s 13th World Cup, the most for any European nation outside the traditional Top 5 (Germany, Italy, Spain, England, France).
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 unbeaten in their last nine World Cup group games (W4 D5), winning each of their last four. They have made it to the second round in six of their last seven World Cup appearances; the only exception coming in 1998.
Belgium have only lost one of their last nine opening games at the World Cup (W5 D3), it was in 1986 (1-2 v Mexico).
Belgium’s last eight goals at the World Cup have all been scored from the 70th minute onwards.
Panama have qualified for their first World Cup. Slovakia were the last debutants to reach the knockout stages of the tournament (2010).
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.
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.
Belgium’s 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.
This will be Roberto Martinez’s first World Cup campaign as manager. He’s the first non-Belgian manager to lead the Red Devils to a major tournament since Scot Doug Livingstone at World Cup 1954.
This will be Panama boss 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.
On the opening day of the tournament, Panama’s squad will have an average age of 29 years and 236 days, the oldest of any team in the competition.