“We started very well for the first 10 to 15 minutes, then Panama become effective with their defensive structure and we got a bit anxious. “But I’m delighted in the way we reacted as a team – everyone was committed to keep a clean sheet and in the second half it was about finding a bit of composure in front of goal. We couldn’t be prouder of the team.”Here are four things we learned from what Belgium did to get off to a winning start in the Belgium Vs Panama match which Argentina, Germany and Brazil failed to do :
Belgium Need To Reorganize On The Left FlankPanama’s first goal of the campaign that kept the fans waiting wasn’t too far away when a lofted ball found Murillo in the space behind Yannick Carrasco who seemed to forget his defensive duties. Belgium could have conceded there if not for Thibaut Courtois who pulled a fine save on the near post. Yannick Carrasco who likes to be involved in every attack leaves acres of space behind to track back and this was clearly evident with Jan Vertonghen clearing up his mess. This gives Martinez something to think as the left-wing is too vulnerable and can be inviting for any opposition.
This is what Romelu Lukaku said after the Belgium Vs Panama match:
Do wonder if Martinez playing so many players in unfamiliar roles will catch up with Belgium— Premier League Panel (@PremLeaguePanel) June 18, 2018
KDB in a midfield 2- never played there at club level
Carrasco LWB- never played there at club level
Meunier RWB-rarely plays there for PSG
Mertens RW-not played there in 2-3 seasons
“As a team we know we have a lot of players with qualities. We were ready today and need to be ready for the next game as that will be more difficult than this one. “I’m not thinking in personal terms – the most important thing is the team. I want to help my team-mates as much as possible.”
No Kompany No ProblemThe Belgians were without their leader Vincent Kompany but still they looked almost solid in defense and managed to keep a clean sheet. Dedryck Boyata who was picked to fill in his boots did his task quite well in defense. However, the real test for this defense awaits when they meet England on 28th of June to show who will be aiming to top the group.
Panama Lacks Cutting Edge But Can Defend When It MattersPanama who don’t have any prior World Cup experience started it quite well in Belgium Vs Panama game causing all sort of problems to restrict Belgium from scoring. They looked solid at the back in the first half but did little to trouble the Belgium defense. Roman Torres who made a nervous start by almost gifting a goal in the early stages stood solid in the defense and they will surely turn to their captain for stopping England in their next game. Though they are likely to finish bottom of the group, they will take encouragement from their first half display. Panama Head Coach Hernan Dario had to say after the Belgium Vs Panama match:
“I told the lads they had played well and no one could point the finger,”
Belgium Clinical But Still Have Room For ImprovementThe Belgians may have eased past a weak Panama side but they left it all for the second half when goals from Mertens and Lukaku made sure that they were off to a winning start. With the genre of stars present in the Belgium team, you would not expect them to be short of ideas in the final third as was evident in the first half of the Belgium Vs Panama game with the score being tied at 0-0. Kevin De Bruyne who had an average pass completion of 83.4% in the Premier League last season managed just a 78.1% against Panama and it took him 68 minutes to play a key pass which resulted in a goal.
That surely raises questions over the deep role he has been deployed in by Martinez which restricts his freedom and influence on the game. The first two goals came from individual brilliance of what the Premier League fans will be aware of. Belgium were not sharp in the first half and were quite slow and monotonous in the build-up. They will be required to be more consistent if they are to reach the latter stages of the competition.
Goal of the World Cup contender from Mertens.— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) June 18, 2018
A brace from Lukaku.
An assist you have to see to believe from De Bruyne.
Belgium's XI on paper is irresistible & these match highlights show that off in spades. https://t.co/exucwoUsuN pic.twitter.com/6V1oFIHK9s