The Red Devils will look to keep their perfect record intact in the Euros 2020 qualifying campaign when they will host Cyprus on Tuesday at the King Baudoin Stadium in Brussels.
Belgium will end their UEFA Euros 2020 qualifying campaign with their home game against Cyprus on Tuesday at the King Baudouin stadium in Brussels.
Roberto Martinez’s men have already qualified for the European Championship finals next year, after winning their group with a perfect record thus far. The Red Devils have been very dominant in all their Group I fixtures having scored 34 goals and conceding only two in the process.
Eden Hazard and co. are coming to this game with a formidable 4-1 win over Russia, who have also managed to secure a spot in the 2020 Euros next year.
Cyprus, on the other hand, will look to salvage something from the game and end their campaign on a high. Ran Ben Shimon’s ran out of gas in October owing to their 0-5 defeat against Russia followed by a 1-2 loss against Scotland which allowed Steve Clarke’s side to leapfrog over them in the group table.
The reverse fixture on Matchday 2 saw Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi bag a goal each in a 2-0 win over Cyprus in Nicosia. Ahead of their meeting in Brussels in the last match of the qualifiers, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both sides.
Team News & Tactics
Roberto Martinez is expected to make a few changes in the starting lineup which started against Russia, resting some of the big names. While Napoli forward Dries Mertens is unavailable for this match after he suffered a knock on the head and limped off uncomfortably.
However, Martinez has a huge pool of talent to choose from and he may allow some opportunities to different players to cement their position in the starting eleven. But Thibaut Courtois is likely to keep his place between the sticks, while the back three may include Toby Alderweireld, Jason Denayer and Dedryck Boyata, with Thorgan Hazard and Timothy Castagne ought to start as wingbacks.
In midfielder Leandro Dendoncker may partner Youri Tielemans adding steel to the midfield and allowing Castagne and Thorgan to venture forward. Eden Hazard is set to keep his place in the starting lineup while Kevin De Bruyne may replace Dries Mertens in the advanced role. Romelu Lukaku can be rested for Michy Batshuayi.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Courtois; Alderweireld, Boyata, Denayer; Castagne, Dendoncker, Tielemans, Thorgan Hazard; De Bruyne, Eden Hazard; Batshuayi.
Ran Ben Shimon is set to play a defensive 5-4-1 formation as his side will have a lot of defending to do and they need bodies in defence and men who can burst forward on the counters. Experienced centre back, Konstantinos Laifis will miss this match due to suspension with Antreas Karo is also out injured.
FC Barcelona youth academy graduate Urko Pardo is set to start in goal with Jason Demetriou and Nicholas Ioannou taking up the fullback slots. Grigoris Kastanos is set to replace Karo in the starting lineup with 35-year old Giorgos Merkis and Ioannis Kousoulos completing the five men backline.
Fotios Papoulis and Georgios Efrem are ought to start in wide areas of the midfielder, with the later also netting a goal against Scotland in their previous match. Charalambos Kyriakou will look to sit back and break up play while 19-year old midfielder, Ioannis Kosti will be vested with the responsibility of supporting Pieros Sotiriou, who will play as the lone striker upfront. Sotiriou has been their main attacking threat having scored four goals for Cyprus in the qualifying campaign.
Probable Lineup (5-4-1): Pardo; Demetriou, Kastanous, Merkis, Kousoulos, Ioannu; Papoulis, Kyriakou, Kosti, Efrem; Sotiriou.
- Both the sides, Belgium and Cyprus have met 12 times prior to this fixture and the Red Devils have been dominant over their matchday rivals, winning 11 of the fixtures and one ended in a draw. Cyprus have never won against Belgium in their history.
- Belgium have had a perfect qualifying campaign and Roberto Martinez’s men have won their last five home games.
- FC Copenhagen forward, Pieros Sotiriou is the leading scorer for Cyprus with four goals in the UEFA Euros 2020 qualifiers. While Romelu Lukaku is the leading goalscorer for Belgium, netting seven goals in only five appearances in the qualifiers.
- Belgium are the only team apart from Ukraine, Spain, Italy and Denmark to have not lost a single match in the qualifying campaign. While the Red Devils are the only side apart from Italy to maintain a perfect record in the qualifiers till now.
Player to Watch
Belgium’s talisman, Eden Hazard struggled in his early days at Real Madrid but ever since their win against Levante the 28-year old has found his shooting boots. Having scored a brace in the last game against Russia, the attacking impetus will be on him once again. Hazard has already netted five goals for the Red Devils in the qualifying campaign and will look to increase his tally against Cyprus.
A challenging season with Real Madrid beckons ahead of him and netting some goals will keep him good stead for the action later on. He will also be a crucial part of Roberto Martinez’s plans next year and therefore he will look to end the campaign on a high.
Prediction Belgium 3-0 Cyprus
After watching the first-half performance against Russia in their previous fixture, one can expect a humiliating scoreline from the Red Devils. But their underwhelming second-half performance will keep the door open for Cyprus, as they hope to salvage something from this game.
But Martinez’s men are one of the strongest outfits in world football and they are likely to pass the Cyprus test with flying colours. The Hard Tackle predicts a dominant 3-0 win for the hosts, with the Red Devils keeping their perfect record intact.