Serious firepower will mark clash of the giants
Belgium and England meet once again in recent times, and only a win for The Three Lions at Den Dreef will do. Their impressive victory in the reverse fixture ought to have handed them the initiative in their UEFA Nations League pool, but the extremely costly 1-0 defeat at home to Denmark (complete with red cards to two likely starters for Sunday evening) has left them with it all to do if they want to repeat the feat of qualifying for the final four knock-out phase of the competitive. The Scandinavian nation are almost certain to not do them any favours in their game with Iceland, so they must go all out. That strategy promises goals at both ends. Read our preview here:
We Need to Talk About Kevin
With the exception of Eden Hazard (ruled out because of a positive COVID-19 test), De Rode Duivels head coach Roberto Martínez can call upon nine of his first-choice XI. That means Thibault Courtois will feature in goal for the first time in this year's competition, and Jan Vertonghen ought to get the nod as the left-sided centre-back. The slot on the flank continues to be a concern for the nation as a whole, and they haven't truly found someone who is nearly as strong going back towards their own goal as they are venturing forwards. Thorgan, Eden's younger brother, will once again undertake the duty, but he is naturally inclined to join the attack. Elsewhere, the centre midfield pairing of Youri Tielemans and Axel Witsel should provide both a lion's share of the ball and enough of a screen between them for Kevin De Bruyne to work his magic in behind and beyond Romelu Lukaku. No Eden also means that he should have more onus and space to work in by himself, as Dries Mertens provides an altogether different, more horiziontal threat.
England strolled to a routine win over the Republic of Ireland, beating their rivals 3-0 at Wembley. Reece James and Harry Maguire, who both featured heavily in their dominance, are the men suspended for the trip to Leuven. Kieran Trippier should slot in for the former, and Eric Dier could come in for the latter. The Atletico Madrid wing-back will relish coming up against Thorgan Hazard down the wing if his side are in the ascendancy, and he has shown how vital his crossing can be in a white shirt. The pairing of Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson in midfield won't be the quickest, and it wouldn't be a major surprise to see Gareth Southgate swap things around if he feels his charges are being bypassed. Jude Bellingham, another hot prospect who has found more accommodation in the Bundesliga from the island nation in recent seasons, is unlikely to start, but his all-action display whilst earning his first cap on Thursday will have demonstrated that he is ready to be an option his manager can call upon again. Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish might have to be similarly satisfied amongst the subs' bench at the outset, despite their scintillating display.
Hazard a Guess
Doubtlessly, the capability exists within the England ranks to both take the game to their opponents and triumph once more. Martínez has never had a reputation as a defensive coach, and the personnel at his disposal only strengthen the case for attacking their adversaries from the off. That means the game could be stretched early on, and with so many individuals on both sides who can be labelled as goalscorers and matchwinners, a feast of football should be served up. It actually plays somewhat into Belgium's hands that they too have to win to be certain of qualification with a game to spare, as the defensive trio are unlikely to receive too much in the way of help from their compatriots. bet365 are offering odds of 6.00 for over 4.5 goals in this one.