June 18, 2018 / 2:27 PM / 5 months ago

Boyata to replace injured Kompany for Belgium opener

Belgian national soccer team players Vincent Kompany and Eden Hazard walk on the tarmac before the departure of the Belgian squad to Russia, at Brussels' national airport in Zaventem, Belgium June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Walschaerts

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Dedryck Boyata will replace the injured Vincent Kompany at the heart of the Belgium defense for their Group G opener against Panama on Monday.

With Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen injured, Boyata was chosen to start in a talent-packed side that includes Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku.

Panama, who are playing their first ever World Cup match, start with a 4-1-4-1 formation with 37-year old striker Blas Perez, who scored the goal that secured their qualification, leading the line up front.

England and Tunisia are also in Group G and play each other later on Monday.

Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Toby Davis

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