De Bruyne on his scoring form, Eden Hazard’s World Cup prospects, semi-relegation for the visitors: Points to talk as Belgium beat Wales

Rarely do you see a match with implications for finals and relegation venues treated as an opportunity to be experienced by coaches, however Wales’ visit to Belgium provided that opportunity for Rob Page and Roberto Martinez due to the proximity of the World Cup.

Michy Batshuayi and Kevin De Bruyne completed clinical work to ensure the hosts stay three points away from the Netherlands and preserve their chances of winning the group and being in the Nations League finals in June 2023. Romelu Lukaku, who had a minor thigh problem, was not risking in attack.

The initial absence of Gareth Bale, who came on as a substitute, was a sensible decision by Paige after the captain joined the squad late after Monday’s LAFC game, and also gave the Wales coach the opportunity to test his other potential goal threats. – Initially Brennan Johnson, Kiefer Moore and Dan James – in the attack.

Here are some of the lessons we learned from the Red Devils’ 2-1 win.

Hazard dispels any doubts about the World Cup

One of Martinez’s most important elements was the chance to rate Eden Hazard, who needs to prove his fitness after another choppy season with Real Madrid so far. Hazard has seen time on the pitch with Los Blancos this season in place of the injured Karim Benzema, but his performances have been choppy.

A national team started on the sidewalk as captain, but confirmed Hazard’s place in the squad for the finals despite his overall lack of club level, and backed this vote of confidence from his coach on the field. The Belgian Player of the Year provided three flashes of welcoming genius in 65 minutes of excitement before making way for Leandro Trossard.

Hazard formed part of a three-man attack alongside Batshuayi and Kevin De Bruyne, who were in command the entire time, with the latter unfortunately not scoring more than once.

Belgium’s best level attack

Nob Michy Batshuayi admirably nodded Lukaku up front, while in midfield, Yannick Carrasco repeatedly turned Conor Roberts in one direction and another. While Wales focused on frustrating Hazard, Yuri Tillmans found space as part of an exceptional off-the-ball performance from his side.

Carrasco hit the post after De Bruyne came close in a move that was canceled for offside, then Hazard hit the ball wide after Roberts managed to narrow the Champions League winner’s options inside the penalty area on the left.

Belgium may need its creative players to be on the mend from the start in Qatar, where they find themselves in a tough group that includes Canada, Morocco and Croatia and are likely to face Spain or Germany if they reach the last 16.

At the back, too, they looked fairly confident before Moore responded to Wells with an expert header 50 minutes later.

Martinez made his debut for Zino Debast, an 18-year-old from Anderlecht who was quickly transferred to the U19 first team. Debast took aim at Wales’ lone goal, trailing a poor cross as he failed in a head-to-head competition with Kiefer Moore, but overall put together a solid turn for a young player.

The manager was not a role model for the youngest of them when he was expelled from the technical area in extra time after an apparent argument with a footballer.

Large areas will worry Wales

Even the most indomitable defenses will be stretched by the Belgian playmakers when they are in form, but Wales looked clearly vulnerable to such attacks during a display that cheered their World Cup-scheduled opponents in the group stage for USA, England and Iran.

American ‘MMA’ midfielders Tyler Adams, Weston McKinney and Younes Moussa would imagine causing havoc when they play Wales on this evidence, with Tim Weah, Christian Pulisic and Brenden Aaronson all capable of inflicting the kind of damage that Belgium in his face. of honorable defenders.

Meanwhile, England has the likes of Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish who can drift toward the wings and seize space to deadly effect, while Iran has speed and deception in wide positions via Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Amir Hossein Hosseinzadeh and Sardar Azmoun. The Bayer Leverkusen striker who has been seen as coveted by the Premier League favourites.

Wales showed remarkable resilience and determination to prevent Belgium from increasing their lead before Batshuayi reached second, making it all the more important for the team returning to the World Cup for the first time since 1958 to seize any opportunity they pose.

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Moore couldn’t make the most of the cuts inside the penalty area for most of the match and James made a cross that was very easy for Courtois to collect after Johnson’s good work getting Carrasco to defend at the expense of a corner kick.

Page deserved a response and came close to a late equaliser after scoring for the 12th consecutive game.

With this result, Wales remains three points behind Poland, who will play in the sixth round, in last place, which means relegation from the United Nations League.

They may be on the verge of losing their place in Group One, but Wales once again proved their qualifications by displaying a huge improvement in the second half as they played their part in an entertaining match against the highest-ranked team in Europe.

Page won’t be bothered by the result after a tough summer revolving around his team’s World Cup accession during those narrow World Cup qualifiers victories over Austria and Ukraine.

With Bale reintroduced and the defense tightened, Wales’ return to the Finals could lead to a place in the knockout stage for a third consecutive major tournament.

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