After losing against Morocco by 0-2, Roberto Martinez’s side will play its last group stage fixture against Croatia. Both teams will face each for the seventh time, with Belgium winning three, losing two, and drawing one.
Talking about Belgium first, they started the World Cup as one of the potential candidates to lift the coveted trophy. According to many, this is the last chance for Golden Generation to win an award for their nation. They started their World Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over Canada, a game where they were outclassed by their opponent and were lucky to take home all three points with a narrow victory. In their second group stage game, they played against Morocco and lost to them by 2-0. Ahead of their last group stage game against Croatia, they sit third at the table with three points under their name and will be looking to beat Croatia to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for the next round.
Belgium’s win would confirm their booking and leave Croatia dependent on Morocco’s result. At the same time, KDB’s side can qualify with a draw only if Canada defeats Morocco by four or more goals. That being said, the only option Belgium has is to look at KDB to give another magical performance and take all three points for his side, who have already said, “We don’t have any chance”.
Belgium vs Croatia: Belgium Coach Roberto Martinez Said Ahead of the Croatia Fixture:
“We will play to win against Croatia, and that will be the start of us at this World Cup.”
Romelu Lukaku is expected to start against Croatia, his first for the club or country since August. At the same time, Amadou Onana won’t be available due to suspension after he received a second yellow card against the Atlas Lions.
Belgium Probable Starting XI (3-4-2-1):
Courtois, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Castagne, Meunier, Tielemans, Witsel, Trossard, De Bruyne, E Hazard, Batshuayi
Casteels, Mignolet, Debast, Faes, Theate, Dendoncker, Vanaken, De Ketelaere, T Hazard, Carrasco, Doku, Lukaku, Mertens, Openda
On the other hand, runners-up of the previous edition, Croatia, were held at a goalless draw by Morocco in their World Cup opener, in which they were lucky to take home one point after some fine shots were saved by their goalkeeper. In their second group stage fixture, they conceded World Cup’s earliest goal as Alphonso Davies sent the ball back into the net with a thumping header just 69 seconds after the start of the game. However, they recovered well and dominated the game after their opening goal and until the final whistle, they had scored past four goals against them. With these performances, Croatia sits at the top of their group table with four points in two games. In their final group stage fixture, they will play against Belgium, who are vulnerable at the moment, after KDB’s side lost against Morocco by 0-2.
Marko Livaja, who substituted Nikola Vlasic after the West Ham loanee was removed due to a calf problem, is expected to retain his place against Croatia after an impressive display against Canada. Captain Luka Modric, who is only booking away from a suspension, is expected to maintain his position.
Croatia Probable Starting XI (4-3-3):
Livakovic, Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa, Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic, Kramaric, Livaja, Perisic
Grbic, Ivusic, Erlic, Vida, Sutalo, Barisic, Stanisic, Jakic, Sucic, Majer, Osric, Pasalic, Petkovic, Budimir, Vlasic
Belgium vs Croatia Match Facts:
* Location: Ar-Rayyan, Qatar
* Venue: Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
* Date: 1 December, Thursday * Kick-off Time: 15:00 GMT / 10:00 ET / 07:00 PT
Belgium vs Croatia Conclusion:
Belgium has lost form at the wrong time but will go all in to qualify for the next round, which they deserve, given their squad, not their performance. Securing three points is the only way to go forward for Belgium, and they would choose this way. On the other hand, Croatia would like to finish the group as toppers and go as far as they can, as we witnessed in 2018.