England Face Belgium in the Nations League
Last updated: October 9, 2020 by Leon Marshal
|Last Meeting:||Belgium 2 – 0 England|
|Competition:||UEFA Nations League|
England are back in competitive action in the Nations League and face tough opposition as the visitors are Belgium, the number one ranked team in the world. Manager Gareth Southgate has a selection dilemma, with several players impressing in the friendly win over local rivals Wales.
With one draw and one win, England sits second in their UEFA Nations League group B. England have been goal-shy in the competition so far, failing to find the net from open play in two games, with just one goal scored from the penalty spot. They face a stern test against the group leaders who have plenty of goals in the team.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is Englands new hot property with ten goals in the last seven matches including two hat tricks to continue his impressive form of last season of eight goals in 11 appearances. This form earned the 23-year-old his first senior English call-up, and the Everton man made his debut in Thursday’s 3-0 win against Wales, scoring the first goal in the 26th minute. The striker was taken off early in the second half, possibly hinting that Southgate had seen enough and was saving the youngster for this more important clash with Belgium. Carlo Ancelotti has compared his game to his former striker Filippo Inzaghi as the youngster looks to have improved his game and looks like a complete forward with superb aerial ability, and precise finishing.
Another youngster who made his debut in the Wales game was Reece James who came off the bench in the 58th minute to replace Atletico Madrid star Kieran Tripper. James earned a first-team call up after an explosive start to the season to continue giving Gareth Southgate a headache on the right-wing position. Alexander Arnold, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, and now James add up to the most contested position on the England squad.
Bakayo Saka and Harvey Barnes are the other new young, and energetic inclusions with Greenwood and Foden omitted after their misdoings.
27-year-old Connor Coady also deserves mention, the Wolves captain made his debut for England in a 0-0 Nations League match in Denmark and scored England’s second goal against Wales, the defender’s first goal since April 21, 2018. His goal aside, his influence on the pitch was immense, barking orders at players with such assurance that you’d think he had 100 caps under his belt.
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish also had a fine game in his first start for his country, pulling strings in midfield and it was his excellent cross from the right that enabled Calvert-Lewin to head home powerfully. Grealish had a hand in five goals, scoring two himself, in his club’s stunning win against Liverpool in the Premier League in the last round of fixtures. His fine form continued in the match against Wales.
Another option up front for Southgate is Danny Ings. The Southampton player has three goals in four games in the league and scored England’s third goal against Wales. Making his first start for England, the 28-year-old showed great athleticism, scoring with an overhead kick in the 63rd minute.
Belgium’s rise to becoming number one in the World FIFA rankings is spectacular. Eleven years ago, they were ranked a lowly 71st in the rankings but climbed to the number one spot which they have held since the Euro qualifiers in 2005. Despite being recognised as the best team, they do not have the trophies to show for it, a third place in the 2018 World Cup and runners-up in the 1980 European Championship is the closest they have been to the two main prizes. The golden generation is ageing, with time running out for some of these stars.
They are the highest-scoring team in the competition so far with seven goals with a perfect start overcoming Denmark 2 – 0 and Iceland 5 – 1. Despite not fielding their best squad, with Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard missing out, they were still a formidable force dominating the play and scoring for fun.
Roberto Martinez men won’t change their attacking style of play against a side that is also very attacking and thus promises to be a very entertaining encounter with plenty of goals. Their captain and best talents, Hazard, is doubtful for this encounter after struggling with recurring injury ever since he made the big-money move to Real Madrid.
Michy Bathshuayi netted a double in their 5 – 1 win against Iceland, and also scored in Belgium’s 1-1 friendly with the Ivory Coast this week; he will lead the line in case their record goalscorer Lukaku doesn’t feature. Another player to watch out for would be Dries Mertens who has scored in each of the last two competitive games and is the joint leading assist provider in the competition with two.
Belgium looks a much more complete team but without their key men, especially with the intensity of this fixture could make this a more even affair than expected.
Saka, Barnes, and James are among the young, exciting prospects expected to feature and add some energy in the Three Lions side.
England has only scored one goal in two games which were from the penalty spot but are still in a great position to qualify sitting second in the group.
Belgium is the world number one team has been in great form ahead of this encounter, winning all their games in the group and have a chance to win the group early.
They have won the last two games without their all-time top goalscorer Lukaku and their best player Eden Hazard.
|England (3-4-2-1):||Pickford, Walker, Coady, Mings, Trippier, Maitland-Niles, Rice, Grealish, Rashford, Kane, Calvert-Lewin|
|Subs:||Henderson, Pope, Alexander-Arnold, Dier, Gomez, Keane, Mount, Phillips, Ings|
|Belgium (4-2-3-1):||Casteels, Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen, Meuier, De-Bruyne, Witsel, T. Hazard, Mertens, Doku, Bathsuayi|
|Subs:||Roef, Dendoncker, Tiellemans, Dimata, Mignolet, Vanaken, Verschaeren, Praet, Trossard|
So Far This Season
|England This Season||Belgium This Season|
|1 (1)||Wins (away)||2 (1)|
|1 – 0 v Iceland||Biggest Win||5 – 1 v Iceland|
|1 (0)||Draws (away)||0 (0)|
|Sterling (1)||Top Goal Scorer||Batshuayi (2)|
|Y2, R1||Discipline||Y1 R0|
|1||Failures to Score||0|
|0%||Both Teams to Score Games||50%|
|0%||Over 2.5 Goals||50%|
|100%||Under 2.5 Goals||50%|
- England and Belgium have played each other 23 times. England has 15 wins, Belgium four with four draws.
- Bathsuayi is the best goal scorer on the pitch with two goals alongside Mertens, who is also the best assist player with two assists.
- England has just scored one goal while Belgium is the best goal scorers in the Nations League with seven goals.
- If Belgium wins this match, it would put them on the brink of qualification and would heap pressure on the England team.
Head to Head
|Last 5 meetings between the two sides|
|Date||Competition||Game Result||First Goal-scorer|
|14/07/2018||World Cup||Belgium 2 – 0 England||Meunier 4’|
|28/06/2018||World Cup||England 0 – 1 Belgium||Januzaj 51’|
|02/06/2012||Friendly||England 1 – 0 Belgium||Welbeck 36’|
|26/06/1990||World Cup||England 1 – 0 Belgium||Platt 120’|
|12/06/1980||Euro Championship||England 1 – 1 Belgium||Wilkins 26’|
Conclusion & Betting Tips
England overcame Wales fairly easily on Thursday night. It was an experimental side who performed well which will delight Gareth Southgate who was forced to shuffle his pack due to players missing due to coronavirus protocol breaches. With respect to Wales, Belgium is the highest-ranked team in the world and will be a much stiffer test. England has lacked goals in their last two competitive games, but the form of Harry Kane, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Danny Ings could change that.
While England may be struggling to score in competitive games, Belgium has no such worries and score for fun. They have scored 17 goals in their last four competitive games including five past Iceland and two past Denmark. Even without their best players, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Belgium is quickly becoming England’s bogey team, and we expect this pattern to continue here, despite England having home advantage. We predict a 3-1 win for the visitors, a scoreline that is available @ 20/1 with 888sport.