The last game of another busy day of action in the FIFA World Cup 2022 sees the attention returning to Group F as the third placed team from 2018, Belgium, get their tournament underway when they go up against Canada.
Canada are about to embark on a first campaign for 36 years and there is some quiet optimism around the North American outfit, but they face a Belgium side who could be potential winners if they play to their full potential.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on BBC 1 in the UK with the build-up to the game beginning at 6.30pm and kick off coming along at 7pm.
Belgium have threatened to win a big tournament over the last six years without having that little extra that you need to actually go on and do it. You sense this is their last chance to do that because this squad is going to break up, certainly by the time the next World Cup comes around if not by the time the Euros begin in Germany in a couple of years. That adds pressure which in truth they haven’t always thrived under so Belgium need to show they can handle that expectation first and foremost.
You sense more than any other tournament that Belgium are going to need to let their attacking do the talking. I say that because their defence is aging more than any other area of the pitch so the longer they can keep position in these matches and go forward the easier they can make it on that defence. There is certainly no lack of forward options for Belgium but with the exception of Kevin de Bruyne you wonder if too many stars are just slightly past their peak.
This will be the first time that Canada have graced the World Cup since 1986 but they already know they will be at the next one because they will co-host it so they can just take any shackles that were on them off and give this a real good go. There is more than a good case to be made that Canada are now the best nation in the CONCACAF region and the fact that the first two teams from that part of the world have avoided defeat in their opening match should give the Canadians plenty of confidence.
This tournament might well have come around at the right time for Canada too. Their overseas players are largely all involved with their clubs and in decent touch but just as importantly CF Montreal have just had a good campaign in the MLS and they provide six members of the squad. The three from Toronto FC have had better campaigns than their club did. With little to lose you sense Canada could be a dangerous outfit in this match and the two which follow.
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Belgium are going to be without Romelu Lukaku for this opening game so the former Chelsea forward Michy Batshuayi is likely to get a starting place through the middle for the Red Devils. Thomas Meunier is a doubt for this one as is Jan Vertonghen.
Canada have received a huge boost ahead of this match with Alphonso Davies having been passed fit after a strain in his hamstring. Milan Borjan is available between the sticks and Stephen Eustaquio is also available.
I think we are going to see a fairly open contest with a few goals in it here. I really don’t think Belgium can just sit back and be pragmatic here because the pace that Canada have in forward areas will have them under pressure and will eventually get in on goal. If there is a weakness in this Canada side then it is at the heart of their defence and that is where Belgium should be focusing and exploiting.
This is definitely a match where I think both teams will think they can find the back of the net and having seen the earlier match finish as a draw a defeat isn’t going to ruin Canada’s chances of progressing so they can definitely have a go here and look to add their name to Saudi Arabia and Japan on the list of shocks. This is also a chance for Belgium to show that they are peaking at the right time and lay a bit of a marker down so I like over 2.75 goals in this one.
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