Bitter rivals Belgium and Netherlands are set to clash in the Derby der Lage Landen at King Baudouin Stadium on Tuesday night.
Belgium and Netherlands are set to revive their rivalry on the football field, when the neighbouring nations meet for a friendly encounter in Brussels on Tuesday.
Belgium, currently occupying the top spot in the FIFA Rankings, have been in fine form heading into the encounter. Having finished third in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Red Devils have picked up three victories in three matches since, beating Switzerland 2-1 in the UEFA Nations League most recently.
Roberto Martinez’s side are unbeaten at home since September 2016. And, the former Everton manager will be aiming to keep the record intact with a victory in the Derby der Lage Landen.
Netherlands come into the game high on confidence as well, after beating heavyweights Germany 3-0 in their UEFA Nations League encounter this past week. Things are starting to click for Oranje under manager Ronald Koeman and they will be keen on building on it, with another morale-boosting victory against their neighbours on Tuesday.
History is against the Dutch however, as they have failed to beat Belgium in over 21 years. Their away form hasn’t been all that impressive either. So Koeman’s men will have their task cut out when they take the field in Brussels.
Team News & Tactics
Belgium came into the international break without a number of their key players, with the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Adnan Januzaj and Kevin De Bruyne all left out of the squad due to injury and fitness issues.
The latest casualty for the Red Devils is defender Thomas Vermaelen, who has returned to Barcelona after picking up a muscular injury in the last game. Defender Brandon Mechele, who has been called up for the first time ever, could get some minutes from the bench.
No changes in the 3-4-3 formation, that Martinez has stuck by, are expected for Tuesday’s game. Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois should continue between the sticks for the home team. Toby Alderweireld and Vincent Kompany will also hold on to their spots in the three-man backline. Celtic defender Dedryck Boyata is expected to come in for the injured Vermaelen.
Thomas Meunier is fast establishing himself as one of the finest attacking wing-backs in Europe and should start on the right side, while Nacer Chadli could get a look in on the opposite flank, in place of Yannick Ferreira Carrasco. Axel Witsel will anchor the midfield for the Belgians, with AS Monaco starlet Youri Tielemans expected to provide the forward thrust from the middle.
Eden Hazard has been in sensational form for club and country and is a guaranteed starter on the left side of the attacking trident for the home team. His younger brother, Thorgan Hazard, could get the nod on the right flank, in place of Dries Mertens, with in-form striker Romelu Lukaku set to spearhead the attack once again.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Boyata; Meunier, Tielemans, Witsel, Chadli; Thorgan Hazard, Lukaku, Eden Hazard;
The Oranje have been dealt with a big blow as captain and defensive mainstay Virgil van Dijk has returned to Liverpool with a rib injury. Apart from the towering defender, the other notable absentee for the Dutch is forward Justin Kluivert, who wasn’t picked by the manager in the squad, following his slow start to the 2018-19 campaign.
Koeman is unlikely to change the 4-3-3 formation that proved to be very effective against Germany, but there are likely to be a few alterations in the starting XI for the trip to Brussels.
Jasper Cillesen is likely to make way for PSV Eindhoven No. 1 Jeroen Zoet under the woodwork on Tuesday night. Hans Hateboer could get a starting berth at right-back in place of Denzel Dumfries, while Patrick van Aanholt is in line to replace Daley Blind on the opposite side.
Matthijs de Ligt will likely be the only member of the defence that started against Germany that will hold on to his place, with Nathan Ake expected to partner him in the absence of van Dijk.
No changes are expected in the middle of the park, however, with the talented youngster Frenkie de Jong expected to start as the deepest of the three-man midfield for the visitors, supported by Marten de Roon and Georginio Wijnaldum on either side.
Quincy Promes is in line for a start on the left flank ahead of Ryan Babel, after coming on as a substitute against Germany and making an impact, while Steven Bergwijn is expected to be retained on the opposite wing. Leading the line for Netherlands will once again be Memphis Depay.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Zoet; Hateboer, de Ligt, Ake, van Aanholt; de Roon, de Jong, Wijnaldum; Bergwijn, Depay, Promes;
- The two teams have clashed on 126 occasions in the past. Netherlands have the slight upper hand, with 55 victories to their name, while Belgium have ended up on the winning side on 41 occasions.
- However, the Dutch have failed to pick up a victory against the Belgians in the last seven meetings between the two teams (D5 L2). The Oranje’s last victory over the Red Devils came way back in September 1997.
- Belgium haven’t lost a single game at home since September 2016, when they were beaten 2-0 by Spain.
- Ronald Koeman has lost just two of his seven matches in charge of Netherlands (W3 D2).
- Belgium have won 11 of their last 12 fixtures. Their only defeat came against France in the World Cup semi-final earlier this year.
Player to Watch
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
It has been a strange start to the 2018-19 season for Romelu Lukaku. After a splendid World Cup campaign, where he played a huge hand in Belgium finishing third, the 25-year-old started the new season for Manchester United on a strong note, scoring four goals in his first five Premier League appearances.
However, the star marksman has gone without a goal for six games in a row in all competitions for the Mancunians, with his last goal coming in September. But, his goal drought at club level hasn’t affected his form for the national team as Lukaku has netted five times in Belgium’s three matches since the World Cup, including a goal in the win over Switzerland this past week.
Expect the burly striker to cause plenty of problems to the Netherlands backline that will be without their leader Virgil van Dijk on Tuesday night.
Belgium 2-1 Netherlands
Netherlands come into the game buoyed by their excellent victory over Germany this past week in the UEFA Nations League. Under Ronald Koeman, they have lost just two of their seven fixtures and are clearly a much better unit than the team that failed to qualify for the World Cup.
However, Belgium are in such fine form at present, that they seem almost unstoppable. Driven by their golden generation, the Red Devils have lost just two of their thirty matches since Roberto Martinez took over the reins of the team. As a result, we at the Hard Tackle expect Belgium to come out on top again on Tuesday, with the Dutch’s winless run against their neighbours set to extend further.