While Belgium is still recovering from the twin terror attacks last week, their national football team must now prepare for the rescheduled friendly in Portugal on Tuesday night.
The Red Devils will travel to Portugal without the presence of certain star players like Eden Hazard (hip), Kevin De Bruyne (knee), and Vincent Kompany (calf) due to injuries.
Although these injuries have gravely weakened the Belgian squad, head coach Marc Wilmots says that he is going to put out the strongest team possible on Tuesday night.
Hazard, De Bruyne to miss out
“There are injured players and some players who are maybe only 50 per cent fit, so it requires some adjustment. But I will start with the best possible arrangement,” Wilmots was quoted saying on Goal.com. “From this match we might not be able to learn a lot, but it will be an interesting game and it is the opportunity for some other players to show themselves.”
Other than these three stars from the Premier League, the Belgians are also going to miss the Tottenham Hotspur duo of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld. Liverpool striker Divock Origi and Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco are also set to miss the friendly against Portugal.
Wilmots hoping for Ronaldo to be rested?
The big news coming out of the Portuguese camp is that Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo may be rested ahead of his club’s crucial match against arch rivals FC Barcelona on the weekend.
“It remains to be seen whether the Portuguese coach [Fernando Santos] is undertaking a lot of changes and whether Cristiano Ronaldo plays a lot,” Wilmots said. “He played on Friday for 90 minutes and this weekend he has with Real in the Clasico visiting Barcelona. For us, it changes little, however, we play the same way.”
It goes without saying that Belgium’s plans (especially in defence) will be different if Ronaldo plays in this match. Although the Red Devils have a deep squad and are known for playing expansive football, they will be wary of the Real Madrid forward as his inclusion in the team gives the Portuguese substantial bite up front. Ronaldo has scored 55 goals in his 124 appearances for his country.
The Portuguese is also a key member of the Real Madrid starting XI, which makes it imperative that he is fully fit and rested for the crucial El Clasico against Barcelona in the weekend. In fact, the match against Barcelona may be said to have greater significance than an International Friendly against Belgium.