Match Time：11/16/2020 03:45 Monday (GMT+8)
A mouthwatering showdown in the UEFA Nations League takes place on Monday as Belgium welcome England to Den Dreef for matchday five in League A Group 2. The hosts currently sit atop the rankings with nine points to show from four games, with England two points adrift of their opponents heading into this crucial game.
Belgium, the number one ranked side in the world, will be out for blood this weekend. Roberto Martinez's men have only failed to win one game in their Nations League group - with that fateful night at Wembley blowing League A Group 2 wide open in the race to make the finals.Prior to making the journey to the home of English football, Belgium had not suffered defeat in any competition since losing 5-2 to Switzerland in the 2018-19 Nations League, with Martinez's men winning 12 of their next 13 games to cement their position at the top of the world rankings.However, even though Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring for the Red Devils at Wembley, England soon turned the tie on its head with goals from Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount to take the spoils and deny Belgium the opportunity to secure top spot in the group.Belgium did manage to recover from that dampening defeat a few days later as they overcame basement team Iceland, but even then Martinez's side did not cruise to victory and had to rely on a double from Lukaku - one from the penalty spot - to pick up all three points after Birkir Saevarsson initially restored parity for Iceland.Martinez's side warmed up for this crucial match with another 2-1 victory - this time Michy Batshuayi was the hero of the hour for Belgium as his double propelled the Red Devils to a friendly win over Switzerland in midweek.Simply put, Belgium must win to put one foot firmly in the Nations League finals and dash England's hopes of finishing top. If the Red Devils win here and Denmark fail to beat Iceland, the race to make the final four will be done and dusted before matchday six in League A Group 2.England are sure to have a thing or two to say about that, however. Gareth Southgate's men have already beaten Belgium once in the group and know that there is no reason why they cannot do it again.Southgate's crop of young and up-and-coming players produced a dominant performance to secure England's first victory over the Republic of Ireland since 1985 with a 3-0 win at Wembley on Thursday, with Harry Maguire, Jadon Sancho and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all finding the back of the net.The talent in England's ranks is unquestionable, but the Three Lions are facing an uphill battle to pip either Denmark or Belgium to top spot and make the finals for a second year running.The less said about England's most recent Nations League encounter, the better. Southgate was forced to witness both Maguire and Reece James being sent off and Christian Eriksen - as he did so often at Wembley with Tottenham Hotspur - notching up the decisive goal on matchday four.England will certainly be expected to beat Iceland in their final group game, but that result may pale into insignificance should the Three Lions fail to take maximum points from Sunday's clash with Belgium - a team whom England also lost to twice in the 2018 World Cup.
Belgium Nations League form: WWLW
Belgium form (all competitions): WWDLWW
England Nations League form: WDWL
England form (all competitions): WDWWLW
Belgium gave a run-out to several inexperienced players against Switzerland, but the hosts will be back to their strongest XI possible here, starting with Thibaut Courtois replacing Simon Mignolet in goal.Batshuayi's double is unlikely to keep him in Martinez's thinking with Lukaku looking to haunt England, and the effervescent Kevin De Bruyne is eyeing his 20th goal for the national team.Youri Tielemans is set to return to the midfield, although his Leicester City teammate Timothy Castagne misses out alongside Eden Hazard, with the veteran Dries Mertens eyeing a start in place of the injured Yannick Carrasco.Meanwhile, Southgate will not be able to call upon his strongest XI for this imperative clash, with Maguire and James both suspended following their red cards in the loss to Denmark.Fellow defenders Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold are on the treatment table, and Southgate is further restricted in the heart of defence with Conor Coady now forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.Doubts arose over Rashford's fitness heading into the international break and the Manchester United man will play no part in this one either, but Southgate will ring the changes despite a plethora of absentees.Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker and Ben Chilwell are set to make their returns to the first XI, while further up the pitch, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane will come back in to occupy their usual spots in Southgate's lineup.
Belgium possible starting lineup: Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Boyata; Meunier, Tielemans, Witsel, T. Hazard; De Bruyne, Mertens; Lukaku
England possible starting lineup: Pickford; Walker, Keane, Dier; Trippier, Henderson, Rice, Chilwell; Sterling, Sancho; Kane
Belgium VS England
Belgium 2-1 England