Stade Roi Baudouin, Brussels
14 November, 20:00 GMT
Belgium host Colombia at Stade Roi Baudouin tonight in what is expected to be an exciting encounter. Both teams have already qualified for the World Cup in Brazil and are considered to be the dark horses for the upcoming tournament. With some of the most amazing attacking talents on display, this game is sure to excite the neutrals.
Belgium topped UEFA Group A in their qualification campaign and remained undefeated in their 10 matches. They beat second placed Croatia by a massive gap of nine points.
Belgium’s last defeat came last year in a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Romania and since Marc Wilmots’ side have been on a roll. Their FIFA rankings have improved as well and currently they are 5th in the standing. Belgium have some of the most exciting talents in Europe in their ranks and they will be expected to give a good account of themselves, in what would be their first World Cup since 2002.
They are coming into this game on the back of a 1-1 draw against Wales in their last qualification fixture, although it was basically a dead rubber for them. De Bruyne’s opening goal in the second half was cancelled out by Aaron Ramsey’s late equaliser.
Marc Wilmots will be without Manchester City Vincent Kompany for this game, who is yet to recover from his thigh injury. Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen also missed training on Monday and is a doubt for this fixture. Wilmots is unlikely to make too many changes to the side he fielded against Wales in their last game, which means Lukaku will lead the line with Mirallas, De Bruyne and Hazard supporting him in attack. Dembele and Witsel will continue their partnership in the center of the midfield. Vertonghen, who came on as a substitute the last game, is likely to replace Vermaelen in the center of the defence alongside van Buyten.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Courtois (GK); Alderweireld, van Buyten, Vertonghen, Pocognoli; Dembele, Witsel; Mirallas, De Bruyne, Hazard; Lukaku
Colombia came second in the CONMEBOL, just two points behind table toppers Argentina. Jose Pekerman’s side won nine of their 16 qualification fixtures in the tough group and came above the likes of Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay. The World Cup in Brazil will be their first since the 1998 event in France.
Colombia have lost only twice in their last 15 matches and are coming into this game on the back of a 2-1 victory against Paraguay in their last qualification fixture. The home side took an early lead through Rojas in that match, but Colombia fought their way back into the game as Colombian captain Yepes scored a brace to win the game.
Jose Pekerman will tinker with his side in this friendly and is expected to make quite a few changes to the starting eleven he used against Paraguay in his last game. He will be without Yepes, Zuniga and Ospina for this game due to injuries. Pekerman has used a three-man defence at the back throughout the qualification and his attacking line-up has brought him results with free flowing football. Medina, Zapata and Perea will form the defence with Vargas in goal. The full-backs play an important role in his formation and Cuadrado and Armero will provide the width on the flanks.
Guarin will partner Aguilar or Ramirez in the middle. James Rodriguez will play in a free role behind the strikers and look to exploit the space between the lines. Falcao, who has been brilliant form since his big money move to Monaco, will partner Gutierrez upfront.
Reports suggest that Jose Mourinho will be in the stands to monitor Falcao in this game as Chelsea prepare a big bid for him.
Expected starting line-up (3-4-1-2): Vargas; Zapata, Perea, Medina; Cuadrado, Aguilar, Guarin, Armero; Rodriguez; Falcao, Gutierrez
Players to watch out for: Romelu Lukaku (Belgium); Radamel Falcao (Colombia)
Prediction: Belgium 2-1 Colombia