Belgium find themselves in a battle for World Cup survival as they head into their final group-stage match trailing Morocco and Croatia.
The Red Devils need to win against Croatia to book a spot in the knockouts.
A draw might also work, but no Belgium fan would want to rely on permutations to keep their World Cup campaign alive.
Croatia did not win against Belgium in 12 years, but the recent forms of the two teams indicate it’s the Checkered Ones, who will enter the fray as favourites.
The 2018 runner-ups started their World Cup mission with a dismal 0-0 draw against Morocco. But they silenced the naysayers by dismantling Canada 4-1 in the second group stage game.
Zlatko Dalić came back from behind to secure the emphatic win as Andrej Kramarić fired in a brace.
Marko Livaja and Lovro Majer also got their names on the scoresheet.
A draw will be enough for Croatia to go through.
To ensure the top spot, however, they will need to beat Belgium.
If Morocco win their match against Canada at Al Thumama Stadium, Croatia will need to win by a bigger margin to keep hold of the Group F top spot.
Belgium’s World Cup campaign has been marred with poor on-pitch performances and off-pitch controversies.
Players publicly taking digs at each other, news coming out that multiple team members don’t interact with each other, and losing to Morocco to leave their World Cup fate hanging by a thread; Belgium are a trainwreck at the moment.
But Roberto Martínez’s men can surely recoup their lost belief and save their World Cup campaign with a win over Croatia.
It’ll be difficult under the current circumstances, but Belgium do have the quality in their squad to turn their wretched form around.
Zlatko Dalić will not feel the urge to tweak his squad.
So, Livaja should return to spearhead the attack.
Kramarić and Ivan Perišić will form the supporting act.
Luka Modrić will be unavailable for the round of 16 match should Croatia win and he picks up a yellow. But, Dalić might not take the risk of benching his best midfielder against a side of Belgium’s caliber.
Dejan Lovren and Joško Gvardiol will renew their partnership at the back. Josip Juranović and Borna Sosa will return to the fullback positions.
Youri Tielemans is expected to get the nod at midfield after Amadou Onana picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in the Morocco game.
Roberto Martínez will hope to hand Romelu Lukaku his first start in Qatar after the striker’s cameo appearance from the bench against Morocco.
Eden Hazard has failed to live up to his sky-high standards so far, but the Real Madrid man might get another chance to redeem himself.
Belgium are not in great form right now, but desperate circumstances might light a fire in their belly.
However, Croatia should be able to deal with whatever Belgium throw their way.
This could be an entertaining 1-1 draw.
Date: 1 December
Kickoff: 8:30 PM IST
Venue: Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium