Belgium will try to make their presence felt in the World Cup when they entertain Canada at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium on Wednesday.

This could be a make-or-break campaign for Belgium who will be up against a stringent Canada, a country who will be participating in this competition after a long gap of 36 years.

Belgium have never been able to fulfil their potential on the big stage as barring an Olympics medal they haven’t really burst onto the scene despite having one of the best squads on paper. Backed up by a relentless qualifying campaign their juggernaut was halted by a poor show in the UEFA Nations League as they were demoted to League B with a defeat against France.

But they will take inspiration from their previous World Cup, where their journey was cut short in the semi-finals by France, who eventually went on to lift the cup. Belgium’s preparation for the World Cup has mostly been surrounded by the uncertainty over the injury of their main man Romelu Lukaku. And it remains to be seen whether Roberto Martinez’s gamble can pay off or not.

Canada will be coming to the World Cup to prove their mettle on the big stage ahead of the 2026 World Cup, which is scheduled to be hosted on their soil. The Canadians are well aware of Belgium’s potential, and a World Cup without an upset does not seem inevitable.

They grabbed an automatic qualification spot ahead of the USA and Mexico and they deserve to be treated with respect. Canada are relatively new to this level of international football and will try to enrich themselves with maximum experience.

With Croatia also lining up alongside them in Group F, a positive result might just open the door for Canada for a potential route to the knockouts. They are expected to tame Morocco and could definitely fancy their chances against Belgium.

Team News & Tactics

Belgium

Romelu Lukaku and Thorgan Hazard have had their injury issues and they won’t get the nod in this clash. Thibaut Courtois is an automatic choice in the starting lineup.

He will be guarded by a three-man backline of Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and 19-year-old Zeno Debast. Yannick Carrasco will start in the left wing-back position, while Thomas Meunier will have the license to join the attack frequently.

Axel Witsel and Youri Tielemans will man the two-man midfield. Kevin De Bruyne has been the heartbeat of this Belgian side, and he will partner Eden Hazard just behind the main striker in a bid to run the show. Michy Batshuayi will likely be the lone striker in Lukaku’s absence.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Courtois; Debast, Vertonghen, Alderweireld; Meunier, Witsel, Tielemans, Witsel, Carrasco; De Bruyne, Eden Hazard; Batshuayi

Canada

Canada are still sweating over the fitness of their star player Alphonso Davies, who suffered an injury a few days ago. Milan Borjan will be the preferred choice in the goal. Alistair Johnston, Kamal Miller and Steven Vitoria will have the task to hold the backline together. Tajon Buchanan and Sam Adekugbe will be fielded as wingbacks.

Atiba Hutchinson will win his 99th cap for Canada, and he will have the assistance of Stephen Eustaquio. Alphonso Davies should be fit to feature on the right flank, while Jonathan David will start on the left. Cyle Larin will start up front.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Borjan; Miller, Johnston, Vitoria; Buchanan, Hutchinson, Eustaquio, Adekugbe; Davies, Larin, David

Key Stats

  • This will be Belgium’s 14th time in the World Cup finals without ever laying their hand on the trophy.
  • The Red Devils netted 16 times in the 2018 World Cup and finished the competition as the highest-scoring team.
  • This will be Canada’s first match against Belgium. They are appearing on this stage after a long 36 years.

Player to Watch

Kevin De Bruyne

The Manchester City playmaker will once again be in the focus as Roberto Martinez will be heavily banking on him in the absence of Romelu Lukaku. De Bruyne can find the gaps behind the defence and can also produce miracles on the pitch if needed.

Prediction

Belgium 2-0 Canada

Belgium have enough firepower to inflict major damage on Canada. The likes of Michy Batshuayi and Eden Hazard could capitalise if they are given chances, while Thibaut Courtois will be hard to beat if he is in the mood. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 victory for Robert Martinez & co.

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