Wales will host Belgium in Cardiff on Tuesday evening, knowing that even a draw would be enough to seal the second spot in Group E.

Two European giants will square off in an enticing Group E clash of the World Cup Qualifiers on Tuesday evening when Wales play host to Belgium at Cardiff City Stadium.

Wales cruised to victory in front of their raucous home crowd on Saturday night, defeating Belarus 5-1 as Aaron Ramsey (2), Neco Williams, Ben Davies, and Connor Roberts all registered themselves on the scoresheet. Robert Page’s side are currently second in Group E, three points ahead of the Czech Republic, who must beat Estonia on Tuesday to keep their hopes of clinching the final qualification playoff spot.

Wales have already secured a spot in the March playoffs held to fill the remaining European slots in next year’s Qatar finals owing to their UEFA Nations League performance, where they won their section. However, coming second in Group E may give them a better shot at getting a home draw.

Belgium, on the other hand, have already secured qualification to the Qatar World Cup finals next year with a convincing 3-1 win over Estonia last time out courtesy of goals from Christian Benteke, Yannick Carrasco, and Thorgan Hazard. Belgium did lose to France and Italy in the Nations League semifinals last month, which might have affected their confidence, but they bounced back straightaway and will now look to carry that momentum forward.

Belgium comfortably won the reverse fixture 3-1 against Wales back in March this year. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Wales

Wales will be without Ethan Ampadu for the midweek game against Belgium, as the defender is serving a suspension after being booked during Saturday’s triumph over Belarus. Chris Mepham and Chris Gunter are both in contention to replace Ampadu in the playing XI, but Wales boss Robert Page has no fresh injury concerns and could name a similar lineup to last weekend with a few alterations.

Gareth Bale, who earned his 100th cap against Belarus, contentiously joined the Wales squad for the international break despite having not played for Real Madrid since August due to injury. He was replaced at half-time on Saturday, but the substitution was pre-planned to manage fatigue, but Page has confirmed the Real Madrid star will not start this game but is expected to be fit enough to feature as a substitute at some moment during the match.

Page might deploy a similar 4-4-2 setup which worked to perfection against Belarus. Leicester City keeper Danny Ward ought to take his place between the sticks. Guarding him in the central defence will be Joe Rodon and Ben Davies, who will be tasked to keep things organized at the back while playing a few good long balls. Chris Mepham and Neco Williams will operate the flanks to complete a four-man backline.

Up ahead in midfield, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen pretty much pick themselves in the central midfield. The former will provide energy and a box-to-box option while the latter would be assigned to keep things ticking with his ball-playing ability. Connor Roberts and Harry Wilson would offer width from respective wing positions.

Page should welcome back Kieffer Moore, who returns from suspension to feature alongside a rapid Daniel James in a front two. This duo provides varied attributes. James offers unpredictability with his venomous pace and darting runs, while Moore is all about aerial prowess and domination inside the opposition box.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Ward; Mepham, Rodon, Davies, Williams; C Roberts, Ramsey, Allen, Wilson; James, Moore

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Belgium

Belgium will be without the services of Real Madrid pair Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard in Cardiff, along with Jason Denayer and second-choice goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, with all of them returning to their respective clubs. Jeremy Doku, Romelu Lukaku, Michy Batshuayi, Toby Alderweireld, Youri Tielemans and Thomas Vermaelen have all been ruled out previously.

With qualification to World Cup already secured, Belgian boss Roberto Martinez is expected to make wholesale changes to the side that took the field against Estonia last weekend. As usual, Martinez will set up Belgium in his preferred 3-4-2-1 formation; Blackburn Rovers shot-stopper Thomas Kaminski has been called into the Belgium squad. He might get his first national cap featuring between the sticks ahead of Koen Casteels.

At the back, Timothy Castagne could again feature as the right-sided defender in a three-man backline. Dedryck Boyata will come in for Jason Denayer. Jan Vertonghen, though, will keep his spot and is likely to don the captain’s armband for Belgium in Eden Hazard’s absence.

Thorgan Hazard got on the scoresheet after coming off the bench on Saturday and is vying for a place in the starting lineup. He may slot in the left-wing back role while Dortmund’s Thomas Meunier would occupy the other flank. The pairing of Axel Witsel and Kevin De Bruyne could feature in midfield. Witsel is an enforcer and would look to break the opposition play to maintain the tempo, while the latter would look to engineer high-quality chances.

With Eden Hazard ruled out, Yannick Carrasco might well be pushed into a more advanced role in the final third alongside a returning Dries Mertens, who won his 100th cap against Estonia. Benteke was a potent threat and a menace for Estonian defenders last weekend. The Crystal Palace striker will again lead the charge of the Red Devils from the front.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Kaminski; Castagne, Boyata, Vertonghen; Meunier, De Bruyne, Witsel, T Hazard; Mertens, Carrasco; Benteke

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Key Stats

  • Belgium have a slightly better head-to-head record in this fixture, having won six of the previous 12 meetings between the two teams.
  • Wales have a good recent track record against the Red Devils, having lost a single game in their last five meetings (W2 D2). But that loss came this year when they were defeated 3-1 back in March.
  • Belgium are on a fine run of form, boasting five wins and one draw from their last seven away games and will look to keep the momentum going.
  • Wales have only lost two of their past 19 World Cup qualifiers (W9 D8).
  • Belgium are undefeated in their previous 27 World Cup qualifying games (W23 D4), a run only behind England (30). Ironically, their streak started with a 2-0 away victory in Wales back in 2012.

Player to Watch

Aaron Ramsey

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Although he may not be getting regular minutes at club level for Juventus, his performances for the Welsh national side are growing in stature with each passing game. Fresh from bagging a wonderful brace in a 5-1 victory against Belarus, he has now netted eight times in his last 15 World Cup qualifying outings for the Dragons whilst becoming only the sixth player to score 20 goals or more for Wales.

Aside from his knack of making late runs into the box and ruthless finishing, he adds energy and drive to the Dragons’ midfield. His vision and technical ability are vital to churn high-quality chances in the final third, while his leadership makes him an indispensable cog in the side. It would not be flattering to state that he is the most important player for Robert Page’s side alongside skipper Gareth Bale. Ramsey will again be looking to impress against Belgium in front of the home crowd.

Prediction

Wales 1-1 Belgium

Wales could indeed play without fear here, having already booked a playoff spot, but the Robert Page’s side would be buoyed in front of a vocal home crowd and might go toe-to-toe with the world’s No 1 ranked side in Belgium to finish second in the group. While the visitors don’t have much to play for on Tuesday, they weren’t even at their best against Estonia.

Moreover, a good number of usual starters will be missing for Roberto Martinez’s side but they still possess immense quality on the pitch. There will not be much to separate both sides on the day. Hence, The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-1 share of spoils between both sides, with Wales securing the second spot.

2 Responses to “Wales vs Belgium Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats”

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  1. eVAN sHmegGains says:

    Belgium are absolutely going to dominate todays game, Wales are hopefully prepared to take the defeat. SSSSSUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

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