Despite being the group’s favorite, Belgium could be knocked out of the Fifa World Cup 2022 after Thursday’s match against Croatia at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium.
Before their last group match, the Red Devils were in the third position, one point behind Morocco and The Checkered Ones.
Croatia vs Belgium Group F Match Preview
Sunday’s 4-1 win against Canada improved Croatia’s chances of reaching the round of 16. they eliminated Canada. Canada took the lead after two minutes with Alphonso Davies’ header. Late first-half goals from Andrej Kramaric and Marko Livaja altered the result.
After 20 minutes, Kramaric scored again, and Lovro Majer scored in stoppage time to give Croatia three points and the Group F lead.
As usual, Zlatko Dalic’s squad leads Group D with four points, ahead of Morocco on goals scored. The 2018 World Cup runners-up must draw against Belgium to advance. If Morocco loses against Canada, a victory guarantees the top spot.
Croatia, rated 12th by FIFA, enters Thursday’s encounter undefeated in eight matches across all competitions and has lost just one of their past 18 internationals before Euro 2020.
Croatia hasn’t beaten Belgium since a 1-0 friendly triumph in 2010, but Dalic and co. Believe they can capitalize on Thursday’s opponents’ poor record. Belgium’s golden generation may lose in Qatar’s group stage four years after placing third in Russia.
Romain Saiss and Zakaria Aboukhlal scored late Sunday to overcome Belgium 2-0. Romelu Lukaku stopped a post-match dressing room fight between Kevin De Bruyne and Jan Vertonghen as Brussels rioted.
De Bruyne’s bizarre comment that he and his teammates are “too old” to win the World Cup hurt Belgium, especially when Brazil and Argentina, two pre-tournament favorites, had older lineups. Roberto Martinez must defeat Croatia to reach the last 16. Morocco will finish second if they tie Canada.
Belgium, rated second by FIFA, has lost three of their past four games in all competitions. Still, they are undefeated in their last three encounters against Croatia, including a tight 1-0 friendly victory in June last year, giving them hope for Thursday’s critical showdown.
Croatia vs Belgium Group F Team News
After Sunday’s triumph, Croatia manager Dalic is unlikely to make many changes to his starting lineup. If he does, we could see Livaja continuing to play in the middle of the attack alongside Kramaric and Ivan Perisic.
Real Madrid’s captain Luka Modric, 37, is one yellow card away from suspension but is still likely to start in the mid-field with Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic.
Josip Juranovic and Borna Sosa will compete with Josip Stanisic and Borna Barisic for a starting spot at fullback. At the same time, Dejan Lovren and Josko Gvardiol continue to pair up in the middle of the defense.
Because of suspension, Martinez will be without midfielder Amadou Onana on Thursday. Therefore Youri Tielemans will likely start in place of Onana with Axel Witsel.
As a substitute in the match against Morocco, Romelu Lukaku made his first appearance in Qatar after missing time with hamstring and thigh problems. Martinez is hoping the attacker will be well enough to start against Croatia.
Even though De Bruyne and Eden Hazard have failed to make an impact in Qatar, they are anticipated to keep their starting spots. Michy Batshuayi remains the most probable contender to spearhead the Red Devils’ assault.
Thibaut Courtois is set to make his 100th international appearance, and Timothy Castagne might continue to play with Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen in a back three to protect the goalkeeper.
- Croatia Possible Starting Lineup Option: Livakovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Juranovic, Sosa, Brozovic, Kovacic, Modric, Kramaric, Livaja, Perisic.
- Belgium Possible Starting Lineup: Courtois, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Castagne, Meunier, Tielemans, Carrasco, De Bruyne, Witsel, E. Hazard, Batshuayi.
Croatia vs Belgium Group F Prediction (2-1)
The emphasis is on Belgium to show up on Thursday and win maximum points if they want to leave Group F and avoid a painful early departure, while Croatia needs a draw to advance to the last 16.
Although Belgium has several players who, on their day, can make a big difference, Dalic’s Croatian side has looked better through the first two games of the group round, and I think we can safely predict that they will finish the group stage as the best team.