World Cup 2022 qualifier in Europe is set to begin this week. FIFA top rank leaders, Belgium will start their qualifying campaign by playing host to Wales. In a normal situation, Roberto Martinez’s men would be securing a win easily considering their all star squad and Wales’ boss’ absence since his arrest for the possible assault case, which might impact the team’s form. However, the world pandemic and its travel ban to and from some countries could disrupt each team’s performance, including Belgium too.
Both teams’ latest news
Belgium decides to still include Romelu Lukaku in the 32-player squad despite the travel ban from the Italian government and the fact that the former Manchester United man is currently isolating himself due to the COVID-19 contraction towards his teammates in Inter, Matias Vecino and Stefan de Vrij before the fixture in Serie A last weekend. Roberto Martinez has called up some senior names such as the 35-year old defender Thomas Vermaelen and Nader Chadli plus several debutantes. They are Stuttgart’s Orel Mangala, Anderlecht’s Albert Lokonga and Blackburn’s goalie, Thomas Kaminski. Yet, the former Everton boss has to leave out Eden Hazard because of his ongoing injury.
Meanwhile, Wales FA seems to still keep their faith in Ryan Giggs despite his criminal case. The caretaker Rob Page has only named one debutant in his 31-man squad, Newport County’s goalie, Tom King. Moreover, Juventus’s man Aaron Ramsey is still injured but reportedly will be fit for the fixture.
Roberto Martinez will have to prepare his starting XI without Lukaku, which could be a blow since the Inter Milan forward has been the most prolific striker in the squad. In his favourite 3-4-2-1 formation, Crystal Palace frontman Christian Benteke could get a nod upfront with Brighton man Leandro Trossard and Thorgan Hazard supporting behind him.
Rob Page, on the other hand, might still be employing 4-2-3-1 and relying on Gareth Bale to lead the attack. He will be accompanied by Tyler Roberts in the middle and Manchester United’s Daniel James on the left flank. At the front, Cardiff City’s forward Kieffer Moore is still featuring as the targetman.
Players to watch
In De Rode Duivels, Manchester City man Kevin de Bruyne has made 78 appearances with 20 goals so far. Some other notable figures to focus on are Real Madrid star between the sticks Thibault Cortois, Youri Tielemans and Napoli frontman Dries Mertens.
The Real Madrid loanee and current skipper Gareth Bale is still the most dangerous figure in the squad. He has registered 33 goals in 87 games. Another key man to watch is Daniel James. The Manchester United winger has scored five goals and one assists in EPL, Champions League and Europa League this season.
Belgium vs Wales prediction
The absence of Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard might be a blow but Belgium has enough names to cover them. Playing at their home turf, though only in Leuven, instead of in Brussels, is not likely to affect their form. They will be slightly struggling to pick up three points but they are still bound to seal a narrow win here.
According to the punters, Kevin de Bruyne and Co are backed to win at 10/29. The draw result is at the value of 9/2, whereas The Dragons are priced to win at 10/1.