Wales are struggling to mix it with the international powerhouses they share Nations League A Group 4 with and the Dragons face another test of their resolve when they take on Belgium at the Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels today. The hosts need a victory to keep pace with the Netherlands at the top of the section and Roberto Martínez’s classy charges are favourites to prevail.
We’ve amassed a bundle of stats for the contest below, complete with info on xG, corners, shots, shots on target, fouls, cards and more from the teams’ World Cup qualification campaigns. Use our data to build some winning bet builders this evening. Good luck!
Romelu Lukaku’s hip flexor injury keeps him out of contention for Belgium this week, while Jérémy Doku, Divock Origi and Adnan Januzaj are notable omissions from Robert Martinez’s squad.
Martinez should deploy Belgium in his favoured 3-4-3 formation with Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne in the pockets behind a central striker. Charles De Ketelaere and Michy Batshuayi will battle it out for the furthest-forward role.
Ben Davies, Joe Allen and David Brooks are all out for Wales, while Aaron Ramsey suffered a hamstring tear in France with Nice and won’t feature.
Wales’s shape should be similar to Belgium’s this evening with Gareth Bale, Dan James and Jonny Williams possibly forming an attacking triumvirate in the final third.
Belgium coasted to top spot in their World Cup qualification group, hitting an impressive 3.13 goals per 90 minutes along the way. Defensively, they were also notably mean, conceding just 3.0 shots on target and 0.75 goals against p/90.
The Red Devils mustered nearly double the number of shots (16.40) they allowed opponents to rack up at the other end (8.25 p/90) during their successful campaign.
Wales booked their place at the World Cup through the playoffs after they finished second in their qualification group behind Belgium and their stats also look second-best when compared to their Belgian counterparts.
Wales’s 1.60 goals p/90 was relatively modest, while they conceded more corners (4.50) than they managed to win (3.70). They earned more corners than Belgium when the teams met in the Nations League in June, however (6-4).
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Belgium rattled the net a whopping 25 times in just eight World Cup qualification fixtures and a high number of individual performers in attack clocked up impressive numbers in the final third as a result.
Michy Batshuayi hit 4.04 shots per 90 minutes, while Yannick Carrasco (3.46) was only slightly less productive. Kevin de Bruyne (2.52) kept his involvement high, while Hans Vanaken (2.45) brought penetration to the table from midfield.
Gareth Bale’s star is waning at club level, though he remains a hugely influential force on the international scene. The former Real Madrid star catalogued 3.95 shots p/90 during his team’s World Cup qualification run, with 1.42 (per 90) of his efforts hitting the target.
Livewire winger Brennan Johnson has looked at home in the Premier League for Nottingham Forest this season and the 21-year-old provides menace from the flanks when representing Wales, chipping in with 1.94 shots per 90 in the qualifiers. His versatile club teammate, Neco Williams, provides an interesting alternative in the shots markets. He hit 1.61 attempts p/90 minutes last year.
Player Goals and Assists
Club Brugge stalwart Hans Vanaken outshone many of his more illustrious comrades during Belgium’s World Cup qualification burst, notching seven goal contributions in five appearances.
The omni-reliable Kevin de Bruyne averaged a goal or assist per game, while Yannick Carrasco’s intelligent wing play allowed him to collect two assists. Michy Batshuayi has scored twice in four games in the Nations League.
With five goals and four assists in seven World Cup qualification runouts, Gareth Bale’s numbers for Wales were world-class, while the pacey Dan James (2G, 2A) proved a more than useful foil.
Wales have scored just five times in four Nations League contests, however, and Gareth Bale’s only contribution so far has come via a penalty kick against the Netherlands.
Veteran defender Jan Vertonghen has bags of experience but he can look vulnerable against pace and he was carded twice in six appearances during Belgium’s World Cup qualifiers.
Wing-back Thorgan Hazard (1.25 fouls p/90) is more comfortable when attacking and ill-timed challenges are among his weaknesses defensively. Either Axel Witsel or Amadou Onana will anchor the midfield for Belgium and both players have card-earning potential.
Unsurprisingly, Gareth Bale is usually target number one for Wales and the 33-year-old was fouled 1.75 times per 90 minutes during the WC qualification campaign. Bale will hope to isolate former Spurs teammate Jan Vertonghen today. Bale could also receive some rough treatment from Witsel or Onana when he drops into midfield to link play.
Neco Williams (1.62) also absorbed his fair share of wallops from defenders and his tussles with Thorgan Hazard are worth watching this evening.
Match-Ups to watch
Jan Vertonghen vs Gareth Bale
Axel Witsel/Amadou Onana vs Gareth Bale
Thorgan Hazard vs Neco Williams
Kieffer Moore (4.05 fouls p/90) is a potent foul merchant for Wales though the lumbering centre-forward is unlikely to start this evening for a team more likely to field better counter-attacking alternatives.
Ethan Ampadu brings physicality to the middle of the park, though his two bookings in eight World Cup qualification appearances point to some loose discipline. Neco Williams (1.18 fouls p/90) also has an ankle clip or two in his locker. He committed two fouls against Belgium in the Nations League in June, as did Ethan Ampadu.
Eden Hazard’s wing wizardry hasn’t cut the mustard in Spain, though he never lets Belgium down despite being fouled a massive 3.85 times per 90 last year. Neco Williams might have to get physical to limit Hazard’s impact this evening.
Youri Tielemans (fouled 1.71 p/90) has bruises to display from his World Cup qualification midfield battles and Ethan Ampadu could add to his collection of knocks today. Alexis Saelemaekers (fouled 2.22 per 90) could collide with Ampadu in similar areas if he sees action in Brussels.
Match-Ups to watch
Ethan Ampadu vs Youri Tielemans
Neco Williams vs Eden Hazard
Ethan Ampadu vs Alexis Saelemaekers
That’s it for the Belgium vs Wales stats pack, best of luck if you’re having a bet on the game.
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