England expects as dark horses Belgium launch World Cup campaign


Belgium ran out 3-0 winners over tournament new boys Panama in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday, with Dries Mertens opening the scoring before Romelu Lukaku netted twice.

Southgate's young charges however come to Russian Federation quietly confident after a solid qualifying campaign and encouraging friendly results against the likes of Brazil, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

Southgate's lack of experience was widely discussed when he was appointed but the former Under 21s coach has cultivated an atmosphere of unity and a determination to bury past failures.

"This team shouldn't be burdened with that because they're a fresh group, majority have very few worldwide caps, so the future is all ahead of them", Southgate told reporters at the Volgograd Arena on Sunday. They are led by 37-year-old striker, Blas Perez, who has scored 43 worldwide goals and needs to put up an inspiring performance today as he would be supported by Barcenas, Escobar, G. Torres, and Machado. "But each game is different, and if we have a good day, maybe we can achieve something".

In the heat and humidity of the Sochi summer, Panama's veteran defense began to tire, allowing de Bruyne the space to deliver a terrific assist to Lukaku in the box, putting Belgium up 2-0 in the 69th minute.

"I told them we played with dignity. Look at his age, and he is the captain, in terms of leadership - he never finds it hard to show for the ball", he said.

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Sweden and South Korea get things underway today, and with Germany suffering defeat to Mexico on Sunday, Group E is wide open. "We grew in the second half and now we have to take it to the next game and grow into that".

Manchester United front-man Romelu Lukaku was the central figure, netting a brace to take his worldwide tally to 38 goals in 70 games, including 15 in the last 10. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was once again called into play to award the Swedes the penalty.

Gomez said Panama won't be trying anything but defending against the talented Belgians, and admitted that scoring goals has been a weakness of his team entering the tournament.

"Almost everything was missing".

Belgium sense that this is their time, the golden generation know that this is their unique opportunity to win the nation's first World Cup. "There were concentration errors, unnecessary bad passes and also the attitude was not there".

There are a greater number of balanced groups in this World Cup than at any time in recent history, mainly because Federation Internationale de Football Association shifted away from dividing draw pots by continent at the December draw and used the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings instead.