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Portugal
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12:00 PM UTC Jun 21, 2018
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Salah or De Bruyne for Premier League POTY?

50-50 Challenge
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Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens fire Belgium off to a winning start vs. Panama

A sublime Dries Mertens volley and two Romelu Lukaku goals gave Belgium a straightforward 3-0 victory over Panama.
Shaka Hislop gives his verdict on how impressive Romelu Lukaku and Belgium were to dispatch Panama and avoid an early World Cup slip-up.
FIFA World Cup: Dries Mertens (47') Belgium 1-0 Panama

Belgium huffed and puffed in a goalless first half before finally blowing Panama's door down in the second with three goals.

Belgium found the breakthrough in the 47th minute through a stunning volley from Dries Mertens and doubled the advantage inside of 70 through the head of Romelu Lukaku, following a lovely move and outside-of-the-boot pass from Kevin De Bruyne.

Lukaku made it three just six minutes later, chipping Panamanian goalkeeper Jaime Penedo after being sent in alone by Eden Hazard via...

 By Chris Wright

Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne destroys Adnan Januzaj in training tackle

Going into the World Cup, Belgium were probably looking to Kevin De Bruyne to pull the strings in their midfield and unlock defences with his near-flawless passing technique and vision.

However, it looks like the Red Devils might be preparing to start the Man City playmaker as an enforcer instead -- especially if he's going to be flying into tackles like this against Panama, Tunisia and England over the coming days.

The unfortunate stooge on the receiving end of De Bruyne's emphatic reducer was...

 By Reuters

Belgium's Eden Hazard must stay cool amid World Cup provocation - Kevin De Bruyne

Fresh off Belgium's 4-1 win over Costa Rica, the FC crew highlight their concerns about Roberto Martinez's side and assess how far they can go.
From the group stage to the final, find out who ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti has lifting the World Cup trophy in Russia.
Steve Nicol and Shaka Hislop react to the selections for the Ultimate World Cup XI, as chosen by the fans and ESPN FC experts.

Belgium playmaker Kevin De Bruyne has urged teammate Eden Hazard to remain calm, saying he expects the Chelsea winger to be targeted aggressively by opponents at the World Cup.

Hazard limped off with a dead leg after a series of heavy tackles in Belgium's 4-1 win over Costa Rica in Monday's warmup game.

"If you are good, then people try to kick you," De Bruyne told reporters. "You need to calculate what is coming. You try to stay calm as much as possible. Sometimes that isn't easy, but you just...

Belgium must deliver on 'golden generation' promise at World Cup

Pinned as the dark horses of Brazil 2014, Belgium weren't quite ready, but can Eden Hazard and co mount a real challenge in Russia?
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez is worried by Vincent Kompany having to go off in their draw with Portugal.
Despite Belgium's plethora of talent, ESPN FC's Stevie Nicol is at a loss as to why they continue to struggle.
Vincent Kompany's World Cup dreams could be in doubt after he was forced to withdraw from Belgium's goalless draw with Portugal in the 55th minute.
Ian Darke likens Belgium to a band who can never get a number one. The ESPN panel question if Roberto Martinez can get it right for Belgium's golden generation.

The 2018 World Cup is just over a month away, and all 32 teams are preparing in earnest for their shot at the trophy in Russia. ESPN FC is previewing every team ahead of the opening game on June 14. Find all 32 teams here.

Who they are

Captain: Eden Hazard
Manager: Roberto Martinez
Nickname: The Red Devils
FIFA rank (as of April 12, 2018): 3

How they qualified

Belgium had a very easy campaign in UEFA's qualifying Group H, which seemed relatively straightforward in the first...



Yaya Toure wrong to say Pep Guardiola has 'problems with Africans' - De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne defends Pep Guardiola by saying he has never seen anything racist at Man City, suggesting Yaya Toure's release may have been down to his fitness.
Yaya Toure claims he will play for 1 pound a week to prove Pep Guardiola wrong, but Steve Nicol thinks his antics will make top clubs stay away.

Kevin De Bruyne has dismissed accusations from former Manchester City teammate Yaya Toure that Pep Guardiola "often had problems with Africans."

Toure, 35, was released by the City boss at the end of the season after making just one Premier League start and criticised the coach and accused him of "being cruel to him." But De Bruyne said he has seen nothing to suggest that Guardiola has an issue with black players and believes that City's title-winning season showed he made the right decision in...

 By Chris Wright

Belgium's Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne hit exquisite volleys in training - whose is better?

He may be primarily thought of as a defender, but it would seem Vincent Kompany may just be primed as Belgium's secret goal-scoring weapon going into the World Cup.

Indeed, the centre-back shared a video of two audacious volleys being scored during Tuesday's training session -- one by him, one by Kevin De Bruyne -- and invited his fans to deliberate on whose was the better goal.

Two exquisite strikes, but the effortless nature of De Bruyne's technique seal the deal for us.

With fearsome firepower...