Preview: Belgium vs. Poland - prediction, team news, lineups -

Preview: Belgium vs. Poland – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s Nations League clash between Belgium and Poland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Belgium will hope to avoid being on the wrong end of another humiliating UEFA Nations League defeat when they welcome Poland to Brussels for Wednesday’s League A Group 4 showdown.

The Red Devils went down 4-1 to the Netherlands in their inaugural contest, while the visitors just about managed to scrape a 2-1 success versus a much-changed Wales side.

Match preview

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez reacts on March 26, 2022© Reuters

Belgium have lost their place at the top of the FIFA World Rankings, and they seemingly lost all hope of gleaning a positive result against the Netherlands following Romelu Lukaku‘s injury withdrawal, as Oranje ran riot at the King Baudouin Stadium.

A brace from Memphis Depay alongside strikes from Steven Bergwijn and Denzel Dumfries humbled the Red Devils on their own turf, and there were some incredibly muted cheers when Michy Batshuayi netted a late consolation in second-half injury time.

Roberto Martinez admitted that the heavy defeat was a “wake-up call” as Belgium desperately seek to improve their morale before the World Cup, one in which the so-called “golden generation” will hope that the days of under-performing in the biggest tournaments have ceased.

Belgium’s fourth-placed standing in their Nations League group is hardly a cause for concern at this early stage, but they must still travel to Cardiff and Warsaw before the month is up, and a record of two wins from their last seven in all tournaments is somewhat alarming.

On a positive note, Batshuayi’s consolation on matchday one meant that Belgium have incredibly managed to find the back of the net in each of their last 45 games since their 1-0 loss to France in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, and they will have no intention of losing a fourth Nations League game on the bounce here.

Poland's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring their first goal with Kamil Glik on March 29, 2022© Reuters

Wales and Rob Page may have wrapped all of their star names in cotton wool for their Nations League opener with Poland – which certainly paid dividends as they reached the World Cup for the first time in 64 years – but Czeslaw Michniewicz‘s side were still staring down the barrel of an unlikely defeat.

Jonathan Williams drew first blood for the Dragons with 52 minutes gone, but Karol Swiderski and Jakub Kaminski both struck as substitutes to turn the tie on its head in the latter stages to get Poland’s World Cup preparations off on the right foot.

The world’s 26th-ranked nation had to do it the hard way to seal their spot in Qatar but ultimately proved too strong for Sweden in the playoffs, while they sit second in the embryonic Nations League rankings amid a rich vein of form.

Poland head to Brussels having picked up seven victories from their last 10 matches in all competitions, and like their opponents have also developed quite the penchant for finding the back of the net – doing so in 19 successive matches since a 2-0 loss to Italy in November 2020.

Such a statistic is hardly a surprise given the presence of Robert Lewandowski in the final third, but Michniewicz is fighting an uphill battle to stretch his unbeaten streak to four matches, even if his side did pick up back-to-back wins the last time they met Belgium during Euro 2008 qualification.

Belgium Nations League form:

Belgium form (all competitions):

Poland Nations League form:

Poland form (all competitions):

Team News

Romelu Lukaku warms up for Chelsea in April 2022© Reuters

Belgium’s all-time record goalscorer Lukaku lasted 27 minutes against the Netherlands before twisting his ankle in a collision with Nathan Ake, and Martinez admitted after the game that the striker’s condition “did not look good”.

Lukaku will seemingly sit out the rest of June’s fixtures, joining Thibaut Courtois and Jason Denayer on the withdrawals’ list and allowing Batshuayi, Leandro Trossard and Dries Mertens to battle for his spot up top.

Thorgan Hazard was a notable absentee from the squad last time out but could return here, and Martinez is sure to consider bringing in the likes of Yannick Carrasco and Youri Tielemans after such a humbling loss.

In contrast, Poland came through their opening victory without any fresh concerns to report, but Wojciech Szczesny was left out entirely as Kamil Grabara earned his debut for the national team.

Szczesny will expect to return in between the sticks here, but Michiniewicz may otherwise be tempted to stick with the majority of players who got the job done against Wales before enforced rotation comes into play.

Competition to partner Lewandowski up top is rife, though, and Swiderski will hope to edge out Adam Buksa and Krzysztof Piatek for a spot in the XI after his late heroics last Wednesday.

Belgium possible starting lineup:
Mignolet; Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Boyata; Meunier, Tielemans, Dendoncker, De Bruyne, Carrasco; Mertens, Trossard

Poland possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; Bereszynski, Bednarek, Glik, Puchacz; Klich, Krychowiak, Zalewski; Zielinski; Lewandowski, Swiderski

SM words green background

We say: Belgium 2-1 Poland

The footballing gods should not deliver a drab affair between two sides whose defining qualities lie in the final third, although losing top scorer Lukaku is a killer blow for Belgium.

Poland would have expected a greater margin of victory against a makeshift Wales XI, though, and with Martinez issuing a rallying cry to his Belgium side to respond, we have faith in the world’s second-ranked nation to get back on track.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

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