Belgium were far from their best when they played Canada in their first game, but they managed to return with a narrow win.
The Red Devils will try to address their issues and showcase a better performance when they play Morocco on Sunday evening. The Atlas Lions will look to build on their draw against Croatia and frustrate Belgium to claim the bragging rights and, more importantly, three points.
Belgium cruised through the World Cup qualifiers, scoring more than three goals per match. But that level of domination was nowhere to be seen when they played Canada, who are playing in their first World Cup in 36 years.
Canada would blame their poor finishing for not being able to take anything from the game.
Alphonso Davies had the golden opportunity to hand his team the lead, but the Bayern Munich star could not get past Thibaut Courtois with his spot-kick. Canada failed to take their chances, and Belgium capitalised on it. Michy Batshuayi’s 44th minute goal proved to be the difference maker in the end.
Belgium manager Roberto Martínez knows his team need to do better if they are to improve upon their third-place finish in Russia four years ago.
Not a lot of Morocco fans fancied their team chances of making it to the next round when the fixtures were announced. With Croatia and Belgium in the group, many thought the European teams would ease past Canada and Morocco to make it to the knockouts. But after the first round of games, it seems to be an open race.
While Canada have nothing to show for their respectable showing against Belgium, Morocco forced Croatia to surrender a point in the first match of Group F. The Croatian looked helpless against a well-organised Morocco defence, and at times, it seemed like Morocco could nick a winner to claim the full points.
Having seen Belgium struggle against Canada, Morocco boss Walid Regragui will feel that a win against the European powerhouse is on the cards. But he will be more than happy with a point too. In that case, Morocco will meet Canada in the final group match with a spot in the round of 16 at stake.
Romelu Lukaku might be available for selection against Morocco.
If he returns, Michy Batshuayi will drop out of the starting XI. Eden Hazard could not make a great impression in Belgium’s first match.
There have been some suggestions that Leandro Trossard would be a better pick over the Real Madrid man at the moment. Still, Roberto Martínez is unlikely to drop the experienced winger against Morocco.
Walid Regragui will not feel the urge to shuffle the pack. But he will be worried about the booking Sofyan Amrabat picked up against Croatia.
The Fiorentina midfielder will be unavailable against Canada, which could potentially be a round of 16 decider, if he sees another yellow against Belgium.
Bayern Munich fullback Noussair Mazraoui had to leave the pitch on a stretcher in the first game, but he is confident that he will be fit to feature against Belgium.
Morocco have been incredibly solid at the back against Croatia.
They will sit deep and try to replicate that performance when they take on Belgium. We think it would be tough for Belgium to get past them and take away all three points.
Another goalless draw seems to be the likeliest outcome of this clash.
Date: November 27
Kickoff Time: 6:30 PM IST
Venue: Al Thumama Stadium