FIFA World Cup Qualifying Preview: Belgium v Wales
By Football News
Belgium will be aiming to end their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign in style when they face Wales in Brussels on Tuesday.
A 2-1 victory away to Croatia on Friday ensured that Marc Wilmots' side will play in their first World Cup finals since 2002 in Brazil next year.
On-loan Everton striker Romelu Lukaku scored both goals, after being handed a starting berth in the absence of the injured Christian Benteke, on a glorious night in Zagreb for the Belgians.
Belgium have dropped just two points in Group A and are assured of top spot as they hold an eight-point lead over Igor Stimac's Croatia - who must settle for a place in the play-offs.
Wilmots' side secured qualification for Brazil despite being without captain Vincent Kompany and Benteke, proving they have strength-in-depth.
And with the likes of Eden Hazard, Axel Witsel, Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini at their disposal, they will be fancied to make an impact on the biggest stage of all.
The Stade Roi Baudouin will be bouncing on Tuesday, although Chris Coleman's Wales will be looking to put a dampner on the celebrations.
Wales have no chance of qualifying for the finals, but despite being depleted on Friday, they did manage a morale-boosting 1-0 victory over Macedonia in Cardiff.
Simon Church scored the only goal of the game to enhance Coleman's chances of keeping his job.
The former Fulham manager feared that he would be "out the door" if Wales had lost, regardless of the fact that they were without injured talisman Gareth Bale and captain Ashley Williams, among others.
Tuesday's clash in Brussels will be Craig Bellamy's final appearance for his country after an international career spanning 15 years.
The 34-year-old's 78th cap for Wales will be his last and he will likely be given a prominent role by Coleman.
The Wales boss has been hit by a raft of pull-outs, with no fewer than 15 withdrawals from his squad prior to the Macedonia game.
That has meant a string of teenagers being added to the party, including Cardiff City’s 18 year-old left-back Declan John, who made his debut on Friday and could feature again.
Belgium, meanwhile, would seem unlikely to risk Benteke as he continues to shake off a long-standing hip injury.
The Aston Villa man was named in Wilmots' initial party for the double-header but seems set to be given additional recovery time with nothing riding on the match.
Wilmots also has a decision to make over Manchester United midfielder Fellaini, who played against Croatia despite a wrist problem.