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Belgium vs Wales predictions: Huge test for Dragons in Brussels
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Aidan Perkins
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Roberto Martinez will be expecting a win from Belgium on Thursday
Roberto Martinez will be expecting a win from Belgium on Thursday

Wales will want to prove their World Cup credentials this month but they face a very difficult Nations League test in Belgium on Thursday.

After qualifying for their first World Cup since 1958 earlier this year, Robert Page's side are preparing for the upcoming winter Qatar showpiece and go to Brussels to face a Belgian side who are ranked second in the world.

With two games still to play, Wales know they cannot qualify for the Nations League Finals out of Group A4 but they will be relegated if they lose to Belgium and Poland avoid defeat against the Netherlands.

They will also be relegated if they draw and the Poles win on Thursday, so while the focus is understandably on building up for Qatar, the Dragons will be seeking a good result to try and stay in Group A ahead of Sunday's final clash.

Team news

Belgium are without striker Romelu Lukaku who was left out of the squad due to a hip problem, while fellow forward Divock Origi is also absent with a muscle injury.

However, Roberto Martinez's squad still contains a host of established stars, including Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans and Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne.

Real Madrid's Eden Hazard is another of their superstars and is expected to start, while Brighton forward Leandro Trossard and former Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi, now at Fenerbahce, are other options.

Wales have been hit by the recent withdrawals of experienced pair Ben Davies and Joe Allen, who are on the sidelines with leg and hamstring injuries respectively.

Birmingham midfielder Jordan James has received his first senior call-up, as has Fulham starlet Luke Harris, but Aaron Ramsey, Harry Wilson and Adam Davies are all unavailable due to injury.

Captain Gareth Bale has been named in the squad and could start after coming off the bench against the Netherlands last time out, while Brennan Johnson and Daniel James should keep their places in the starting line-up.

Gareth Bale is his country's all-time leading goalscorer with 40 strikes
Gareth Bale is his country's all-time leading goalscorer with 40 strikes

The stats

Wales have never beaten Belgium away from home, drawing three times and losing on their four other visits.

Belgium have lost only once in their last eight matches, a 4-1 home defeat against the Netherlands in this competition in June, while Wales have won just one of their last six, although that was the crucial World Cup play-off victory over Ukraine that memorably sealed their place in Qatar.

The two sides played out a 1-1 draw in Cardiff earlier in the group, when Johnson's late equaliser cancelled out the opener from Tielemans.

Belgium will stay in contention to qualify for the Nations League finals if they beat Wales, if they draw and the Netherlands do not win against Poland in the other Group A4 fixture, or regardless of how they get on if the Netherlands lose.

The Dragons host Poland in their final Nations League group game on Sunday.

Prediction

With the World Cup edging closer, Belgium will want a victory to send a statement that they are serious contenders for glory in Qatar while keeping their overall Nations League hopes alive in the process.

With world-class players like Courtois, De Bruyne and Hazard in their ranks, Martinez's men should comfortably see off a willing but limited Wales outfit who still rely heavily on 33-year-old Bale and are hampered going to Brussels without the experience of injured trio Ramsey, Allen and Davies.

Tags

UEFA Nations LeagueBelgiumWales
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