Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ will open what, for many of the players, will be their final chance at silverware against World Cup debutants Canada at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan. Belgium are by no means expected to win this tournament, however, historically the Red Devils have performed better when the expectations are low. They will be favourites to win their group, with the likes of Morocco and an equally ageing Croatia side to contend with. Yet it is in the knock-out stages where the Red Devils aren’t expected to pull up many trees.
Canada, on the other hand, will be making their debut at a World Cup in Qatar. The side ranked 41st in the world have a strong attacking side on paper, but its the ageing defence that has left many worried, despite the side only conceding 7 goals in 14 qualification matches. Belgium would do well not to underestimate a side who topped CONACAF qualification above Mexico, the USA and Costa Rica.
Results in the last five matches in all competitions:
Belgium will definitely be without record goal scorer Romelu Lukaku for this game and the following match with the Atlas Lions. Roberto Martinez said the side that started against Egypt was by no means the XI that would face Canada to open the tournament, meaning there are a number of questions about who will start in key positions. Other injury concerns were Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Meunier, yet both featured against Egypt so could be in line to start.
Canada picked up a 2-1 win in their warm up game against Japan, thanks to a late penalty. One area of concern for the Canadian’s was around Bayern München star Alphonso Davies, who has claimed he will be fit to play. Apart from Davies, the rest of the squad are expected to be available to English coach John Herdman.