Belgium vs Croatia
Belgium will host Croatia at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Sunday for their last warm up game before the Euro 2020 competition starts next Friday 11th June.
Both teams will take the opportunity to fine tune before the summer extravaganza of football begins, when each teal will have serious designs on the trophy, though Roberto Martinez’ Belgium is under more pressure to achieve success as they hold top spot in the FIFA World Rankings.
This International friendly: Belgium vs Croatia, is the eye-catching match of the weekend, a clash between the best team in the world and the 2018 World Cup finalists and, while the coaches will take the chance to run the rule over players pushing for a start at Euro 2020, we are sure to see some world class talent on show.
Belgium almost there
The Red Devils will gather in Brussels with one last chance to make any final adjustments before the Euros, and Martinez will want to see an improvement from a disappointing 1-1 draw played out with Greece on Thursday night. The draw, in a warm-up friendly, is never a disaster but Belgium need to up their game to its full potential, that extra one or two per cent could be enough to win the tournament.
The Greeks are ranked 51st in the world and they will be absent from Euro 2020 but they acquitted themselves well against the Red Devils, fighting back to earn a draw. After Thorgan Hazard scored his sixth goal for Belgium, Georgios Tzavellas poked home a rebound when Kryiakos Papadopoulos’ diving header hit the post.
Prior to their stalemate with Greece, Belgium were completely ruthless when they faced Belarus in a World Cup qualifier, winning 8-0. They are unbeaten in eight, winning six and drawing two, and have lost only once in 22 games.
Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku is a sure starter at Euro 2020 thanks to a phenomenal international record of 59 goals in 92 appearances, and there could be a chance for Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke to make an appearance. Meanwhile Kevin de Bruyne will be absent again as he recovers from a fractured cheek suffered in Manchester City’s Champions League final defeat to Chelsea. That injury to De Bruyne might pave the way for Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans to show what he can do. The creative midfielder scored a screamer to win the FA Cup for the Foxes, the first time in their history.
Croatia is a tough nut to crack
At 14th in the FIFA World rankings Croatia is just outside the leading pack of likely winners at Euro 2020 but they have been on a tricky run recently, losing to France, Portugal and Sweden in the Nations League, but since then they are unbeaten in three games, culminating in a 1-1 draw with Armenia on Tuesday. They have kept two clean sheets in the last four games, conceding only twice in the process.
They are a tough side to break down while also possessing some real quality going forward. Inter‘s wide man Ivan Perisic was on target as Croatia drew with Armenia last week, while his Scudetto winning teammate, the midfield general Marcelo Brozovic is an imposing figure in the middle, as well as offering an attacking threat. Across the road at AC Milan, winger Ante Rebic was in fine form for I Rossoneri in the closing weeks of the Serie A campaign.
And Euro 2020 is likely to be the last tournament for 35 year old skipper Luka Modric; the Real Madrid man has 137 caps and has consistently been Croatia’s best player over the past decade.
Belgium’s best effort at the European Championships came in 1980 when they were beaten finalists, while Croatia reached the quarter final in 2008, and were the runner sup at the 2018 World Cup.
Zlatko Dalic’s team have had marginally the better of the head to head Belgium vs Croatia results, winning three to Belgium’s two, but the Red Devils were victorious in the most recent encounter, back in 2013, when Lukaku scored a brace in a 2-1 win.