Belgium vs Canada: Preview and Prediction
Belgium might have never won the World Cup, but they are a formidable side and their current FIFA ranking of number 2 speaks volumes about their potential. Roberto Martinez’s men will be looking for nothing less than three points here.
Canada, on the other hand, might have slightly different ambitions. This will be only their second appearance in the biggest football competition – after their 1986 campaign in Mexico. John Herdman’s team can be really proud just to make it to this stage, and now, they will be looking to play with full freedom and make the nation proud.
While Belgium is behind only Brazil in the FIFA rankings, their recent form portrays a completely different picture. The Red Devils are coming into this competition on the back of two consecutive defeats – against Netherlands and Egypt.
Prior to that, Martinez’s men enjoyed a run of four unbeaten games, winning three of those and drawing against Wales. However, if we consider the 13 matches they have played since October, Belgium succumbed to losses on five occasions.
As far as the current form is concerned, Canada and Belgium are on the same page as Les Rouges have not been very convincing either in their recent run of fixtures. Herdman’s side suffered two defeats in their last five matches – against Uruguay and a comparatively weaker Honduras team.
They were also held to a 2-2 draw by another weaker opponent in Bahrain. Back in March, Canada had suffered defeats against Costa Rica and Panama. Herdman will want his team to re-discover their 2021 form, as they lost only two and won 13 of their 19 matches last year.
Head to Head Record
Belgium and Canada have crossed paths only once – back in June 1989 in an international friendly, held at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park. Then coached by Guy Thijs, Belgium won that game comfortably by a 2-0 margin.
Jan Ceulemans, the former Club Brugge attacking midfielder scored the opening goal of the game, before the Red Devils’ lead was doubled by Marc Degryse, the renowned forward who played for teams like PSV and Sheffield Wednesday.
Martinez prefers to use the 3-4-3 formation, and here in Qatar, we are likely to see him sticking to his preferred shape. Thibaut Courtois is the obvious first choice for the goalkeeping position, operating behind the three-man backline of Leander Dendoncker, Toby Alderweireld, and Jan Vertonghen.
Thomas Meunier and Timothy Castagne are expected to play as wing-backs, with Axel Witsel and Kevin De Bruyne operating from the middle. If Romelu Lukaku does not regain fitness ahead of the match, Michy Batshuayi could feature in the attacking trio, alongside Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens.
If you see Canada matching Belgium’s 3-4-3 formation, it is not a coincidence as Herdman too prefers this shape like his counterpart. Veteran keeper Milan Borjan is likely to be under the sticks, with Alistair Johnson, Steven Vitoria, and Kamal Miller forming the defensive trio.
Skipper Atiba Hutchinson and Stephen Eustaquio could be deployed in the middle of the park, with Richie Laryea and Sam Adekugbe operating on the flanks. A left-back for German giants Bayern Munich, Alphonso Davies usually plays in attack for Canada, alongside Tajon Buchanan and Jonathan David.
Belgium (3-4-3): Thibaut Courtois; Leander Dendoncker, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen; Thomas Meunier, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Timothy Castagne; Dries Mertens, Michy Batshuayi, Eden Hazard.
Canada (3-4-3): Milan Borjan; Alistair Johnson, Steven Vitoria, Kamal Miller; Richie Laryea, Atiba Hutchinson, Stephen Eustaquio, Sam Adekugbe; Tajon Buchanan, Jonathan David, Alphonso Davies.
Belgium might not have momentum on their side, but on paper, there is a huge gulf in quality between the two teams. Hence, we have predicted the Red Devils to secure an easy victory in this match.