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Belgium tactics (II)
Guillaume Pirard writes to say Belgian media believe Roberto Martinez will play a 3-4-3 – but with Kevin De Bruyne alongside Axel Witsel in midfield. He doesn’t often play in a midfield two. Again, these are desperate times for Belgium.
Belgium (possible 3-4-3) Courteous; Alderweireld, Dendoncker, Vertonghen; Meunier, De Bruyne, Witsel, Castagne; Trossard, Mertens, Carrasco.
Belgium is not left out: discuss.
Belgium’s tactics Wait, wait. There are some suggestions that Belgium will return to a back three, but with Timothy Castagne rather than Leander Dendoncker in defence.
Belgium (possible 3-4-3) Courteous; Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Castagne; Miller, Dendoncker, Witsel, Carrasco; De Bruyne, Mertens, Trossard.
Canada v Morocco
This match is inextricably linked to the events at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha. You can follow that one with Our Baz.
“Following the release of the line-upsis Bobby Martinez’ plea ‘Please, please give me payment’?” asks Ryan Grimward.
I like the team he chose. Eden Hazard is the shadow of the player who was in the team of the tournament at the last World Cup, and the selection of Trossard is long overdue.
Croatia is unchanged; Belgium are not. Roberto Martinez made four changes to the side which lost to Morocco on Sunday. The Hazard brothers and Michy Batshuayi are dropped; Amadou Onana is suspended. Then come Dries Mertens, Yannick Carrasco, Leander Dendoncker and Leandro Trossard from Brighton. Kevin De Bruyne replaces Eden Hazard as captain.
Dendoncker’s inclusion means Belgium could line up with either a back three or a back four. I suspect it’s 4-2-3-1 with Dries Mertens as false nine, but since Roberto Martinez won’t respond to my DMs, I can’t speak with any authority.
Croatia (4-3-3) Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Kramaric, Livaja, Perisic.
Replacements: Grbic, Ivusic, Stanisic, Erlic, Majer, Vlasic, Pasalic, Petkovic, Budimir, Orsic, Vida, Sutalo, Sucic, Jakic.
Belgium (possible 4-2-3-1) Courteous; Meunier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Castagne; Dendoncker, Witsel; Carrasco, De Bruyne, Trossard; Mertens.
Subs: Mignolet, Casteels, Theate, Faes, Tielemans, Lukaku, Batshuayi, T Hazard, E Hazard, Doku, Vanaken, De Ketelaere, Openda, Debast.
Croatia drew 0-0 with Morocco then brought Canada to their knees, coming from behind to win 4-1.
Belgium followed a slightly unconvincing 1-0 win over Canada with a wildly unconvincing 2-0 loss to Morocco on Sunday, after which the players reportedly argued over which of them was lower down the hill.
I say “apparently”, because Roberto Martinez borrowed Donald Trump’s favorite phrase, and I don’t mean Make Belgium Great Again.
This has been shamelessly excerpted from Martin Belam’s excellent guide, which is linked below. Also, if it’s wrong, blame it*.
Croatia A draw is enough for Croatia to qualify. They can still qualify if they lose, if Canada beats Morocco, depending on the margins of the respective victories.
Belgium Belgium must win to be assured of qualification. A draw may be enough, but only if Canada beat Morocco, and even then it will come down to goal difference.
* It’s not
The problem with a golden generation is that one day it turns into base metal. In a few hours, Croatia or Belgium, both on the podium of the last World Cup, will mourn the end of an era. Unless Morocco loses against Canada, one of these two teams will return home.
Belgium is the most threatened. They must win to be sure of qualifying for the round of 16, while a draw is enough for Croatia. There is a way for Belgium to qualify with a draw, or Croatia with a loss, but we will come back to that in the permutations corner.
They are two of the oldest teams in the competition, and some of these legendary footballers are about to appear in a World Cup game for the last time: Kevin De Bruyne, Luka Modric, Romelu Lukaku, Ivan Perisic, Eden Hazard, Marcelo Brozovic, Toby Alderweireld, Dejan Lovren.
And even. While one of these teams will almost certainly offer a heartfelt apology to the nation after the final whistle, if one of them tops the group, they have the chance to go far in the tournament. The Group F winners are not expected to meet Brazil, Spain, France, Argentina or England – the tournament’s five favorites – until at least the semi-final.
Two golden generations go head-to-head, with everything on the line. As the final group matches go, it’s a humglistener.
To start up 3 p.m. GMT, 6 p.m. in Al Rayyan, 4 p.m. in Brussels and Zagreb.