WorldCupAcca Confirmed Squad:
Keeper: T. Courtois, K. Casteels, S. Mignolet
Defence: T. Alderweireld, D. Boyata, V. Kompany, T. Meunier, T. Vermaelen, J.Vertonghen
Midfield: Y. Carrasco, K. de Bruyne, M. Dembele, L. Dendoncker, M. Fellaini, E. Hazard, T. Hazard, A. Januzaj, Y. Tielemans, A. Witsel
Forward: M. Batshuayi, N. Chadli, R. Lukaku, D. Mertens
Belgium will either face Germany or Brazil in the next round, if they can get past either of those then the Red Devils are serious contenders…
Currently ranked 3rd in the world, Belgium will be entering their 13th World Cup. Their previous best finish was in ‘86 when they finished fourth, this was the only time they had reached the semi-final stage.
Four years ago in Brazil, Belgium reached the quarter finals but the performances at the tournament were underwhelming for the talent in the squad, whilst they won all 3 group matches, the matches were far tighter than they had any right to be – 2-1 vs Algeria, 1-0 vs Russia and 1-0 vs South Korea – – never scoring a goal until at least the 70th minute.
This continued into the round of 16, after finishing 0-0 with the United States goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku in extra time saw them sneak through 2-1 before bowing out to Argentina in the Quarters.
The qualifying campaign for Russia was a foregone conclusion, winning nine and drawing one of their 10 fixtures they finished 9 points clear of Greece and 11 clear of Bosnia, scoring 43 goals in the process and conceding 6- Lukaku scored 11, whilst Mertens, Meunier & Eden Hazard chipped in with 16 goals between them as well.
The only match they failed to win was against Greece, which they were very unfortunate or very wasteful depending on how you look at it, having out-shot them 17-2.
Recent friendlies have been a bit mixed, tight wins against Japan and Czech Republic plus a 4-0 route of Saudi Arabia have been interspersed with draws against Portugal, Mexico and Russia – the latter 2 teams finishing 3-3.
Everton and Wigan fans may remember Roberto Martinez’ defensive frailties, though they should be far more entertaining at this tournament at least.
WorldCupAcca The Squad:
Arguably the best team in world football, this is Belgium’s “golden generation” with quality in virtually every area and they need to deliver a serious performance this year.
Starting with Thibaut Courtois in goal, who is probably one of the top 5 keepers around at the moment, plus the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Vincent Kompany as the back 3, all are leading defenders plying their trade in the Premier League.
Meunier is the natural right-wing back and as already mentioned is capable of contributing goals going forward, with no natural left back selected, it’s very likely Yannick Carrasco will start at left-wing back – whilst his defensive capabilities may be suspect he’s another incredibly talented winger and will be a threat going the other way.
Central midfield might cause some headache for a first choice, if Martinez wants to push Kevin De Bruyne further up field and add some more steel and balance to his team then you would say that Axel Witsel and Spurs’ Moussa Dembele will start centrally, however De Bruyne may play deeper as he has so often for Man City this season, which will allow Dries Mertens into the team.
It’s a fantastic option regardless of who starts where, Kevin De Bruyne is possibly the best midfielder in the world at the moment and whether he or Mertens starts further forward they will be lining up with Eden Hazard who is also one of the top talents in world football.
Throw in Romelu Lukaku to lead the line, while he still has the somewhat unwarranted “flat-track bully” label he’s a goalscoring machine and will be a constant threat for any team Belgium come up against.
WorldCupAcca The Group:
Getting out of the group should be a formality but whether they win the group or not will most likely come down to the final game against England.
England are coming into the squad with a young squad and little expectations, question marks over their first choice keeper and still playing a relatively new system, for one of the “big” nations they possess what is on paper a very ordinary team.
However, they have shown themselves to be no pushovers – qualifying is a pretty much always a certaintainty, finishing unbeaten this time round in what was a fairly weak group, they only conceded 3 goals, 2 of which were against Scotland.
Even in recent friendly matches, they have secured draws with Germany, Brazil and Italy as well as a victory over Netherlands.
England do possess one legitimate star in Harry Kane and along with other attacking options like Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy, Dele Alli and Marcus Rashford they will be a threat going forward, Jesse Lingard has also had a very good season with Manchester United and often steps up on the big stages.
Tunisia qualified from what was probably the weakest group in African qualifying facing DR Congo, Libya and Guinea but they are coming into the tournament with injury and fitness concerns for some key players, they will have to be 100% at it every game to have any chance of getting to the last 16 but ultimately they are unlikely to have anywhere near the quality required here.
Making their World Cup debuts this year, Panama are in the same boat as Tunisia.
Their qualification came with some controversy, they finished third in CONCACAF’s Hexagonal round after a 2-1 win over Costa Rica, they were a goal behind as they were awarded a corner, the ball came into the box, deflecting off of Gabriel Torres and striking the inside of the far post.
Striker Blas Perez, his shirt being pulled fell to the ground as the ball bounced off his shoulder before coming to rest on the goal line. He tried to get the ball across, but Costa Rica defender Ronald Matarrita, kicked the ball off of Perez and out of play on the other side of the post.
However, referee Walter Lopez of Guatemala gave the goal, and though Costa Rica complained that the ball never crossed the line, the goal stood. Panama went on to score a winning goal in the 87th minute to secure their spot in Russia at the expense of both Honduras and the United States.
Anything other than finishing bottom of Group G can be considered as something to build on for Panama here. The best they can hope for is some good performances and the younger players in the squad getting some decent experience for any future tournaments.
WorldCupAcca Betting Tips:
World Cup Group G Fixtures / Results
|Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi – June 18, 2018 6:00 pm|
|Volgograd Stadium, Volgograd – June 18, 2018 9:00 pm|
|Spartak Stadium, Spartak Stadium – June 23, 2018 3:00 pm|
|Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod – June 24, 2018 3:00 pm|
|Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad – June 28, 2018 8:00 pm|
|Mordovia Arena, Saransk – June 28, 2018 9:00 pm|
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