Romelu Lukaku is the key absentee for Belgium as they begin their World Cup campaign against Canada today.
The forward has played just 29 minutes for Inter Milan since August and continues to struggle with a thigh injury that is unlikely to keep him out of his country’s first two Group F games.
In his absence, Michy Batshuayi should get the nod to lead the line, with the pressure on Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard behind him to perform as Belgium finally look to fulfill their potential on the biggest stage.
Thomas Meunier came off the bench in last week’s friendly against Egypt as he continues to recover from injury and that could be enough for him to start, with Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld the familiar names likely to return to the back three.
Roberto Martinez opted for the left-back position, with Yannick Carrasco and Timothy Castagne looking to earn their place in the starting line-up.
Canada has concerns about star man Alphonso Davies as he returns to the World Cup, although the Bayern Munich left-back said he is “ready to start”.
Davies injured his hamstring while playing for his club and is yet to fully recover, not playing in any of the pre-tournament warm-ups. It remains to be seen if Canada will take a chance on him or decide to save him for games that, at least on paper, look more favorable.
Lille’s Jonathan David will be key up front, having already scored nine goals in Ligue 1 this season. He certainly has the ability to disrupt the Belgian back line.
Predicted Belgium XI (3-4-3):
Courtois, Debast, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Meunier, Tielemans, Witsel, Carrasco, De Bruyne, Hazard, Batshuayi
Predicted Canada XI (3-4-3):
Borjan, Johnston, Vitoria, Miller, Laryea, Hutchinson, Eustaquio, Adekugbe, Buchanan, David, Larin