England vs Belgium: Three key players to look out for

The Hard Tackle lists three players who can have a positive impact when England and Belgium clash at Wembley on Tuesday.

The international break winds up this midweek, and clubs will be eager to see it wrapping up without any of their players getting injured. But a few eye-catching fixtures remain before players rejoin their outfits, with one of those being the clash between England and Belgium at Wembley.

England suffered a somewhat surprise defeat to Brazil this past weekend, with Endrick scoring the game’s only goal. That ended the Three Lions’ ten-match unbeaten run after the 2022 FIFA World Cup. But they were listless in the final third, managing only three shots on target.

As for Belgium, they also come into Tuesday’s encounter on the back of a winless result. They played out a goalless stalemate with the Republic of Ireland, with the two teams managing only three shots on target between them. But the Red Devils have progressed considerably under the tutelage of Domenico Tedesco, going ten games without a defeat since their ouster from the World Cup.

England and Belgium do not have a rich history in their rivalry, with the Three Lions enjoying a superior head-to-head record. Nevertheless, Tuesday’s game is important for both teams, and The Hard Tackle lists three players who can singlehandedly influence the result with their performances.

Romelu Lukaku

Our list begins with a player who does not usually step up in the biggest games. However, he has an impeccable record in international games, particularly in friendlies and qualification fixtures. We are talking about Romelu Lukaku.

The Chelsea loanee has enjoyed a solid 2023/24 campaign at the club level, with the loan move to AS Roma revitalising his career. However, his future remains uncertain heading into the summer transfer window, with Chelsea ready to cash in on him.

Meanwhile, Lukaku has embraced added burden on the international stage since the 2022 FIFA World Cup ended, becoming Belgium’s captain. That has not bogged him down, and the veteran striker will be eager to prove his naysayers wrong by making his mark at Wembley.

The 30-year-old remains Belgium’s finest outlet in the final third despite his advancing years, making him a pivotal figure for Domenico Tedesco. He will be eager to stamp his authority and deliver the goods when the Red Devils clash with England on Tuesday.

Marcus Rashford

Our attack-minded list continues with a Manchester United player who has shown improvements in the last few weeks. He also has a golden opportunity to nail down his spot heading into UEFA Euro 2024. We are talking about Marcus Rashford.

The Englishman has constantly been in and out of the starting lineup since UEFA Euro 2020 ended. His inconsistent displays at the club level have not helped Rashford. In addition, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, and Jarrod Bowen have risen in stature. That has also deterred him.

However, with Saka unavailable and Raheem Sterling not in favour in recent international breaks, Rashford can become a mainstay in the final third for England with game-changing displays. That did not happen this past weekend against Brazil. But he has a second opportunity on Tuesday.

Rashford can make a case for himself by asserting that he can make a better impact when he features from the get-go. With the 26-year-old showing signs of rediscovering his best touch by scoring in three successive games before the international break, he will look to translate that on the international stage with England.

Johan Bakayoko

Another attack-minded list ends with another wide attacker. We return to Belgium to round off our shortlist, and we pick a player growing in stature on the international stage. The forward in question is Johan Bakayoko.

The PSV Eindhoven winger has been excellent in the 2023/24 season, contributing to 21 goals across all competitions. His creative ability makes him an x-factor in the final third, with Bakayoko possessing a blistering pace that helps him get past defenders with ease.

The youngster’s progress at PSV Eindhoven has also helped him pique the attention of several high-profile clubs, with Chelsea and Liverpool among his prospective suitors. But he is also eager to rise in stature on the international stage.

Bakayoko’s change of pace and creative output make him an ideal foil to Romelu Lukaku, thus giving him the potential to grow in Domenico Tedesco’s squad. A game-changing performance on Tuesday can go a long way in helping him become a regular at UEFA Euro 2024.

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