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Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated

Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated belgiumtactics

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Belgium got their World Cup campaign off to a perfect start by defeating Panama 3-0 at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.

A drab first half gave way to a much more thrilling second period, aided by Dries Mertens opening the scoring just two minutes after the restart with a supremely fine volley.

Belgium were deployed in a 3-4-3 system, though at times it resembled a 3-3-4 with wing-back Thomas Meunier pushed high up the pitch

Romelu Lukaku added a double in the final 20 minutes to round off a victory that appears much more impressive on paper than it did in reality.

But, just how did Roberto Martinez’s side perform in Sochi? talkSPORT.com’s Belgium player ratings can be seen below…


Thibaut Courtois – 6  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated thibaut courtois

Thibaut Courtois – 6

Was rarely called into action by Panama’s poor attacking force, but he completed all required jobs with ease. Tougher faces await for Courtois.

Toby Alderweireld – 7  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated toby alderweireld

Toby Alderweireld – 7

Was offered a lot of time and space on the ball to showcase his passing ability, and looked to support Belgium’s attack as much as he could. He spent a lot of the game pushed wide, which allowed Meunier to sit high up the pitch. Not an impressive performance on paper, but one that allowed Belgium to line-up and attack as they did, which in itself is a valuable quality.

Dedryck Boyata – 7  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated dedryck boyata

Dedryck Boyata – 7

The deepest of Belgium’s defenders, Boyata was more than a match for Blas Perez, the Panama forward, who attempted to bully him. Boyata also looked good when breaking forward out of the back line while in possession, adding another body to Belgium’s midfield pivot. He did appear shaky when faced with an opponent running directly at him, however, raising doubts over his capabilities at defending one-on-ones.

Jan Vertonghen – 7  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated jan vertonghen

Jan Vertonghen – 7

Calm and composed, as expected, on the left side of Belgium’s three-man defence. He was forced into action a lot due to Carrasco’s errors on the left flank, and never looked troubled by Panama’s right-sided players. He was comfortable moving to a left-back position when Witsel dropped into the back line, or moving more centrally when Boyata pushed into midfield.

Thomas Meunier – 8  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated thomas meunier

Thomas Meunier – 8

He stayed pinned to the right flank almost constantly, and pushed very high up the pitch with Mertens staying inside. Many of Belgium’s best chances came from Meunier’s overlapping runs creating space behind the Panama defence. He faded in the second half, and was content to sit a bit deeper and not provide the driving runs he did in the earlier stages.

Kevin De Bruyne – 7  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated kevin de bruyne1

Kevin De Bruyne – 7

He flitted around in midfield and looked to support Belgium’s attack, but never really produced a cutting edge. De Bruyne appeared quite off the pace and sluggish, and was playing far too deep without providing those driving runs of his we have become so used to seeing. The one time he found himself with time and space on the edge of the box, he curled in a perfect cross with the outside of his boot for Lukaku to head home.

Axel Witsel – 6  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated axel witsel

Axel Witsel – 6

Sat in front of Belgium’s back line and kept play simple by receiving passes from the defence and carrying the ball forward. A real lack of dynamism to his play, but made no mistakes. Such a performance will prove more valuable against better teams, when Belgium will actually come under pressure in the final third.

Yannick Carrasco – 5  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated yannick carrasco

Yannick Carrasco – 5

Carrasco has been forced to play in an unnatural wing-back role, and it is clear he is not suitable for such a position. He was making basic errors in defence when under no pressure, and being forced to sit deep also meant he did not really provide anything going forward, unlike Meunier on the right flank, who is a natural in the position. It is no surprise the majority of Belgium’s attacking play was being directed down the right side of the pitch.

Dries Mertens – 6  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated dries mertens

Dries Mertens – 6

Largely ineffectual in the first half as he failed to link up well with either Hazard or Lukaku. He started the second period brilliantly, scoring a fine volley to put Belgium ahead, but returned to providing little in the way of quality after that. It was a poor showing made much better by a truly wonderful goal.

Eden Hazard – 7  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated eden hazard1

Eden Hazard – 7

He was all neat touches and skilful play, but to little effect. The combinations between Hazard, Mertens and Lukaku were just not working, and the only danger Hazard posed was when he took it on himself to run at goal. When Belgium were two goals to the good, Hazard found it much easier in the final third as Panama pushed forward and lost their defensive structure. One fine run forward led to Hazard playing in Lukaku to make it 3-0.

Romelu Lukaku – 8  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated romelu lukaku

Romelu Lukaku – 8

Struggled to lead the line against two very physical central defenders. Lukaku has shown many times that his hold-up play is not particularly great, and his touch consistently let him down on this occasion, again. He was forced to drop deep just to pick up the ball, but then struggled to do anything with it. In the final 20 minutes, Lukaku proved he is best when inside the opposition area, making space for himself to head home De Bruyne’s cross, then running onto Hazard’s ball to chip a lovely finish over the keeper.

Mousa Dembele (substitute) – 5  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated mousa dembele3

Mousa Dembele (substitute) – 5

Added another body in midfield but never really got into the game following his introduction.

Thorgan Hazard (substitute) – NA  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated thorgan hazard

Thorgan Hazard (substitute) – NA

Spent too little time on the pitch for a fair assessment

Nacer Chadli (substitute) – NA  Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated nacer chadli

Nacer Chadli (substitute) – NA

Spent too little time on the pitch for a fair assessment


Source : TalkSport

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