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Preview: England vs Belgium – stats, team news, line-ups

It’s redemption time for England as they entertain fellow continental heavyweights Belgium in a friendly on Tuesday evening. 

Wembley Stadium was breached for the first time in a while, with Endrick’s late strike inspiring Brazil to a narrow 1-0 win on Saturday.

Home supporters will hope for a much better performance from the Three Lions against potential 2024 European Championship title rivals in their final warm-up outing in March.

England’s next game is in early June against Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Gareth Southgate can’t afford to enter that fixture on a three-game winless streak.

After an uneventful 1-1 draw in their last 2024 European Championship qualifier against North Macedonia, Southgate’s side delivered another faceless display against Brazil. 

For Southgate’s doubters, Saturday’s game was the latest evidence of his incompetence in coaching the squad of elite Premier League stars and standout individuals, such as Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane.

But with the most prestigious continental tournament fast approaching, a managerial change is off the table, meaning Erik ten Hag’s touted heir at Manchester United must rally his troops quickly. 

Repaying Belgium a favour after a 2-0 defeat in the 2020 UEFA Nations League would be a statement of intent.

However, Domenico Tedesco’s charges have not been in a forgiving mood since their unceremonious 2022 World Cup exit, though they slumped to a scoreless draw against the Republic of Ireland over the weekend. 

Match Preview

Although Brazil condemned England to only their first defeat since returning from Qatar (W8, D2, L1), the Three Lions’ performances have often flattered to deceive, especially in recent matches.

Southgate’s overly cautious approach has started to annoy the fans, with the 53-year-old resorting to defensive football in almost every high-profile match-up despite boasting an intimidating attacking potential.

England’s dismal record against Belgium under the ex-Middlesbrough manager’s stewardship perhaps best illustrates his often wasteful attacking set-up.

Barring a 2-1 home win in October 2020, the former world champions have lost the three remaining encounters against De Rode Duivels under Southgate without scoring. 

Defensive stability Tedesco insisted on since taking charge of Belgium after Roberto Martinez’s exit has provided a backbone to the team’s drastic improvement after the Qatar showpiece. 

The Belgians have yet to lose an international under the former RB Leipzig boss, racking up eight wins and three draws in 11 post-World Cup outings while keeping seven clean sheets. 

Belgium’s rock-solid backline has strung together three shutouts in the build-up to this trip, but Tedesco’s frontlines have failed to hold up their end of the bargain. 

Aside from a 5-0 demolition of sub-par Azerbaijan, they netted only one goal in their two remaining fixtures in that sequence, beating Serbia 1-0 in a friendly before firing a blank in Dublin.

Team News

Kyle Walker, who sustained a hamstring injury against Brazil, has withdrawn from the team alongside Sam Johnstone and Harry Maguire, making space for uncapped youngster James Trafford and Rico Lewis.

Thanks to Maguire’s departure, Everton starlet Jarrad Branthwaite could make his senior debut, as his Manchester United counterpart Kobbie Mainoo did on Saturday. 

Belgium will touch down in London without Manchester City superstar Kevin De Bruyne. But his clubmate Jeremy Doku bids to join forces with Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku in attack.

Luton Town goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski should start between the sticks after replacing Nottingham Forest’s Matz Sels at the tail end of Saturday’s game at the Aviva Stadium.

England vs Belgium Potential Line-ups

England (4-2-3-1): Jordan Pickford; Ezri Konsa, John Stones, Jarrad Branthwaite, Joe Gomez; Kobbie Mainoo, Declan Rice; Jarrod Bowen, Jude Bellingham, Marcus Rashford; Ivan Toney.

Belgium (4-3-3): Thomas Kaminski; Thomas Meunier, Wout Faes, Arthur Theate, Deman; Youri Tielemans, Amadou Onana, Arthur Vermeeren; Johan Bakayoko, Romelu Lukaku, Jeremy Doku.

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