Belgium vs Canada: World Cup Group F Preview Round 1, 2022
Photo via gettyimages/John Thys

Many people in Belgium believe their best chance of achieving World Cup glory has passed them.
 

Four years ago, in 2018, when the likes of Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens and Jan Vertonghen were in their prime was seen as their time to claim the Jules Rimet Trophy. Defeat to France, however, meant they were knocked out in the semi-finals as Les Blues went on to become world champions for the second time.

Since then, Roberto Martinez's side have been beaten in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 to Italy. A repeat of the same fate they suffered in 2018, losing to the nation that went on to win the competition. And overcome by France again, this time a 3-2 defeat in the UEFA Nations League finals despite taking a 2-0 lead. 

They do enter this group, though, as clear favourites to finish top, with Croatia expected to come second.

The Red Devils still have a number of world class operators, with Kevin De Bruyne the pick of the bunch. There also seems to be a breakthrough of young talent, such as Jeremy Doku, Amadou Onana and Charles De Ketelaere, who could announce themselves on the international scene in the forthcoming World Cup.

As for Canada, they have only looked upwards since John Herdman became manager in 2018. He previously had a successful seven years in charge of the nation's women's team, winning the Olympic Bronze medal at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.

The pinnacle of his reign so far has been guiding The Maple Leafs to their first World Cup since 1986. This has been achieved by building a strong togetherness within the team and changing the negative attitude that had encapsulated previous regimes. 

The side is made up of a mix of emerging youngsters, experienced veterans and solid professionals. Alphonso Davies is the most well-known player heading to Qatar. But others such as Jonathan David, who has scored a serious number of goals for Lille over recent seasons, Kamal Miller, a centre-back who enjoyed a stellar campaign with CF Montreal and Atiba Hutchinson, now 39 and very much in the twilight of his career, are all worth watching out for.

Team News

The only player in both camps who is certain to miss out is Romelu Lukaku. He hasn't played for Inter Milan since September and is unlikely to make Sunday's fixture against Morocco as well. This is down to a thigh injury.

While Thomas Meunier and Leandro Trossard are doubts both are expected to play on Wednesday with Meunier starting in a right wing-back role and Trossard on the bench.

For Herdman's side however there has been serious worries about whether or not Davies would be able to feature in this game. However, he has returned to full training after suffering a hamstring injury at the start of the month.

Stephen Eustaquio and Milan Borjan, both suffered minor knocks but have since returned to full training and likely to start.

Likely lineups

Belgium - Courtois; Dendoncker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Meunier, Tielemans, Witsel, Carrasco; E.Hazard, De Bruyne; Batshuayi

Canada - Borjan; Johnston, Vitoria, Miller; Laryea, Hutchinson, Eustaquio, Davies; Buchanan, David, Larin

Key players

Belgium - Kevin de Bruyne

His country's best player. While others unfortunately have seen their careers fade away, De Bruyne is very much in his prime and arguably the world's best midfielder. There isn't much the 31-year-old can't do, his passing is magical whether that be short or long, he can score screamers from 20 yards and tap ins from two. To go with all that, there aren't many with a work-rate like De Bruyne's, he has been sensational for six-seven years now and doesn't look like that will change any time soon.

Canada - Kamal Miller

This is a controversial choice, purely because Bayern Munich's Davies is Canada's most talented player by a comfortable margin. This statement though says more about Davies than it does the squad as mentioned earlier, this is a capable group. But against Belgium they are likely to be doing a lot of defending and while Davies could play an important role on the counter. Montreal's Miller should be heavily involved.

The 25-year-old is coming off the back of his most impressive season to date. Part of an overachieving CF Montreal side, Miller played 27 games as they finished second in the MLS' Eastern Conference, despite having one of the smallest budgets in the league. His performances have alerted clubs from across the Atlantic and if he can repeat them in the World Cup, a January move could happen. 

Match details

  • Where is the game being played? 

The match is being played at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

  • What time is kick-off?

Kick-off is at 7pm GMT

The game is live on BBC One for fans in the UK.

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