This Sunday sees a major clash at international level, as England play host to Belgium in the UEFA Nations League.
With both sides looking towards next summer’s finals, a win here is imperative – although after drawing last month with Denmark, it’s England who will probably be more desperate to secure three points.
Regardless, with Belgium currently ranked first and England fourth in FIFA’s world rankings, this has the potential to be a tremendous game.
England vs Belgium Head-to-Head
England actually have an excellent record against Belgium, beating them on 15 of the 23 occasions the two sides have faced off. However, in recent years, Belgium have had the advantage.
They defeated Gareth Southgate’s side twice during the 2018 World Cup, although it’s worth noting that both matches were dead-rubbers of sorts.
England’s recent form has been relatively strong. Thursday night saw them beat Wales 3-0, and before that, they secured a 1-0 win in Iceland and a 0-0 draw in Denmark. They’ve lost just one of their last 10 matches, an upset at the hands of the Czech Republic in 2019.
Belgium’s most recent match saw them secure a 1-1 draw with the Ivory Coast in a friendly, but prior to this, they comfortably defeated both Denmark and Iceland in Nations League action. Their last loss came at the hands of Switzerland in 2018.
England form guide: W-W-W-D-W
Belgium form guide: W-W-W-W-D
England vs Belgium Team News
England boss Gareth Southgate is expected to have Tammy Abraham and Jadon Sancho available for this game following their COVID-19 breach, but Ben Chilwell may miss out due to a bout of illness during his isolation period. Outside of them, Raheem Sterling’s withdrawal has been Southgate’s only concern during this camp.
Injured: Raheem Sterling
Doubtful: Ben Chilwell
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has had to deal with a number of issues during the current international break. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has been forced out of the squad due to fitness concerns, while midfielder Nacer Chadli and striker Dries Mertens have also been unable to join the camp.
Injured: Thibaut Courtois, Nacer Chadli
Unavailable: Dries Mertens
England vs Belgium Predicted XI
England predicted XI (3-4-3): Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire, Conor Coady, Tyrone Mings, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Declan Rice, Jordan Henderson, Kieran Trippier, Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane, Jack Grealish
Belgium predicted XI (3-4-3): Simon Mignolet, Toby Alderweireld, Jason Denayer, Jan Vertonghen, Thomas Meunier, Kevin de Bruyne, Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard, Leandro Trossard, Romelu Lukaku, Jeremy Doku
England vs Belgium Prediction
Due to the high quality in both sides, this should be a close game.
England definitely have the pace in their attack to hurt Belgium, as Alderweireld, Denayer and Vertonghen aren’t the quickest defenders. However, the big question is whether Southgate’s side have fully adjusted to their new 3-4-3 system yet.
In their last three games, England have shown a dearth of creativity. And up against a side who can dominate the ball from midfield and open up a defence in a heartbeat, they may well be in trouble here. If Southgate’s team can win, it would be their best victory since 2018, but Belgium should definitely come in as favourites.
Prediction: England 1-3 BelgiumPublished 09 Oct 2020, 15:33 IST