Croatia vs Belgium — Preview

Match Preview

After being held to a goalless draw by Morocco, Croatia put four past Canada to move to the top of Group F. Unable to turn 65% of the possession into goals and having had only two shots on target on Matchday 1, The Blazers managed 10 shots on target in their second outing, after falling behind to an early goal. Belgium have done nothing to justify their number two spot in the FIFA Rankings and were fortunate to beat Canada when Expected Goals favoured their opponents by 2.88 to 0.99. Then, despite having 67% of the possession, they were surprised 2-0 by Morocco.

There has been very little between these two teams over their eight previous meetings, with three wins apiece, and two draws, the last of which was a 1-0 win for Belgium in a friendly, 18 months ago. Romelu Lukaku, restricted to just over ten minutes of game time so far in this tournament, maybe in contention to start up front but there’s uncertainty about the Red Devils’ formation. Having played three at the back in recent years, coach Roberto Martinez opted for a 4-2-3-1 system in the loss to Morocco. Croatia can be expected to retain their usual 4-3-3- set-up. A win or a draw for Croatia — ranked 12th by FIFA — will see them qualify. For Belgium, only three points will guarantee progression — a draw would leave them needing help from Canada. The top seeds in Group F still have work to do If they are to avoid becoming yet another golden generation that has failed to live up to unrealistic expectations.

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