Boyata starts in defence as Hazard leads Belgium against Panama

(L to R) Belgium’s defender Toby Alderweireld, Belgium’s defender Thomas Meunier, Belgium’s midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium’s defender Dedryck Boyata, Belgium’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Belgium’s forward Eden Hazard listen to their national anthem during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group G football match between Belgium and Panama at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi on June 18, 2018. Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

Dedryck Boyata starts in Belgium’s defence as Roberto Martinez’s gifted side begin their World Cup campaign against outsiders Panama in Sochi on Monday.

Boyata, of Celtic, profits from the absences of Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany to play in a central defensive three in a Belgian team skippered by Eden Hazard for this Group G encounter.

Kevin De Bruyne lines up in midfield with Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens in the Red Devils’ attack.

Panama’s line-up at the Fisht Stadium is as confirmed by coach Hernan Dario Gomez on the eve of the game as they make their World Cup bow.

Roman Torres, whose goal against Costa Rica in qualifying secured Panama a place in Russia, captains the side from central defence.

Belgium (3-4-2-1)

Thibaut Courtois; Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Jan Vertonghen; Thomas Meunier, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco; Eden Hazard (capt); Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku

Coach: Roberto Martinez (ESP)

Panama (4-1-4-1)

Jaime Penedo; Michael Amir Murillo, Fidel Escobar, Roman Torres (capt), Eric Davis; Gabriel Gomez; Edgar Joel Barcenas, Armando Cooper, Anibal Godoy, Jose Luis Rodriguez; Blas Perez

Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez (COL)

Referee: Janny Sikazwe (ZAM)

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