Fans' wait for the World Cup has, of course, been a little longer than normal this time around – ordinarily the tournament would've already been completed.

Nevertheless, the big kick-off is closing in with Qatar 2022 now just 100 days away – we're into the final straight!

As with any major tournament, predicting a winner in the build-up is just a natural part of being a football fan, even if it can often be a fool's errand.

But considering how integral statistics are to football these days, using data might just give you the edge, and that's where Stats Perform come in.

Our Artificial Intelligence team have used Opta's extensive data reserves to quantify each team's chances of winning the entire tournament.

Every match has been run through the Stats Perform World Cup prediction model to calculate the estimated probability of the outcome (win, draw or loss). This uses odds from betting markets and Stats Perform team rankings, which are based on historical and recent performances.

It takes into consideration the strength of each team's opponents as well as the difficulty of their respective paths to the final, plus the make-up of the groups and any relevant seedings heading into the knockouts.

Then, the rest of the tournament is simulated 40,000 times and analysed, providing the AI team with a percentage for each nation, showing the probability of them ultimately lifting the trophy at the Lusail Stadium on December 18.

Let's check out the results…

FAVOURITES: France (17.9 per cent)

Suspend your disbelief! Yes, reigning champions France have the greatest probability of winning the World Cup this year, with our model giving them an almost 18-per cent chance of clinching a third title.

But let's not overlook how remarkable an achievement that would be. No team has retained the World Cup since Brazil in 1962, and the only other occasion of that happening was in the 1930s when Italy won it back-to-back.

France were the favourites heading into Euro 2020 but were ultimately disappointing – they'll need to do significantly better here otherwise their fate could be sealed by the dreaded winners' curse.

Each of the past four European winners of the World Cup have been eliminated in the group stages, a trend that began with Les Bleus in 2002.

 

2. Brazil (15.7 per cent)

Another unsurprising entry. That's right, record winners Brazil come in at second in terms of likelihood of winning the World Cup.

Tite's side qualified with ease and clearly have an extremely talented group of players available to them – the problem is getting them all on the pitch at one time while retaining a cohesive and balanced shape.

If Tite can find the magic formula at the World Cup this time, at the very least you'd expect them to get beyond the quarter-finals, the stage they crashed out to Belgium four years ago in Kazan.

Failure, however, will mean Brazil's World Cup drought will stretch to 24 years by the time the 2026 edition comes around, and that would make it their joint-longest barren run in the competition since claiming their first title in 1958.

3. Spain (11.5 per cent)

La Roja aren't the force they were as recently as 10 years ago, when they won a third successive major international tournament with victory at Euro 2012.

However, Luis Enrique has turned them into a side that is easy on the eye and capable of carving open the best teams – their main issue in recent years has been finding a reliable striker, and that'll likely be what determines how far they get in Qatar.

Either way, we can surely expect a better showing than they managed in Russia, where they were hindered by the sacking of coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the World Cup as a result of accepting a post-tournament role at Real Madrid.

4. England (8.0 per cent)

The Three Lions almost won their first major international trophy since 1966 last year at Euro 2020, only to fall at the final hurdle against Italy.

Either way, few can deny it was a sign of progress: they reached the Russia 2018 semi-finals, the final at Euro 2020, so surely Qatar 2022 is theirs already?

Gareth Southgate has made England an effective tournament side, even if doubts remain over his ability to impose a style of play that sees the Three Lions take the initiative against the biggest teams.

Similarly, their performances in the first round of Nations League fixtures in June left a lot to be desired, but that won't stop expectations from soaring in Qatar.

5. Belgium (7.9 per cent)

Squeezing into the top five ahead of the Netherlands (7.7 per cent) are Belgium, who reached the semi-finals four years ago before being eliminated by eventual winners France.

It's fair to say this is likely to be the last opportunity for the Red Devils' so-called 'golden generation' to truly leave its mark on a major tournament – in fact, many original members of that Belgium generation have already retired.

While success for Roberto Martinez's side looks unlikely, they are a match for any team on their day, and our probability score recognises they are by no means out of contention.

THE REST OF THE FIELD

Netherlands and Germany (7.2) are hard on Belgium's heels in our predictor table, though in both cases fans might feel their squads have more to offer than their neighbours.

Both teams have solid blends of experience and youthful exuberance, while the two coaches have vast experience – Louis van Gaal needs no introduction, while Hansi Flick has been involved in the Germany setup for much of his coaching career.

But the teams many will be looking out for because of certain individuals are Argentina (6.5 per cent) and Portugal (5.1 per cent).

 

They are the only other two to be given more than a 2.3 per cent chance of World Cup success, and given the presence of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, they cannot be discounted.

Argentina have rebuilt since a somewhat shambolic campaign in Russia, with Lionel Scaloni inspiring La Albiceleste to their first Copa America in 28 years in 2021.

Messi was central to their triumph in that tournament, and now he's got the proverbial monkey off his back, there's hope Argentina could produce a respectable showing.

With Ronaldo 37 and Messi 35, it's unlikely either will play another World Cup. Given the tournament is synonymous with those generally regarded as the best ever – Pele and Diego Maradona – they will be desperate to crown their respective careers.

This is it.

 

10. Croatia (2.3 per cent)
11. Denmark (2.0 per cent)
12. Uruguay (1.5 per cent)
13. Mexico (1.4 per cent)
14. Switzerland (1.0 per cent)
15. Poland (0.8 per cent)
16. Iran (0.6 per cent)
17. Japan (0.5 per cent)
18. United States (0.5 per cent)
19. Wales (0.4 per cent)
20. Qatar (0.4 per cent)
21. South Korea (0.4 per cent)
22. Serbia (0.2 per cent)
23. Senegal (0.2 per cent)
24. Ecuador (0.2 per cent)
25. Australia (0.1 per cent)
26. Ghana (

Galatasaray have confirmed the double signing of Dries Mertens and Lucas Torreira.

The Turkish Super Lig side announced they were in negotiations for both players on Saturday, with images circulating on social media of the pair travelling to Istanbul from Milan.

Mertens, a free agent following the end of his nine-year stint with Napoli, has penned a one-year deal with the club.

The Belgium international won the Coppa Italia twice during his time in Naples and was a member of the Red Devils squad that came third in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

At 35-years-old, Mertens is yet to announce his international retirement and could yet feature at this year's World Cup in Qatar, where Belgium will be in Group F alongside Canada, Croatia and Morocco.

Torreira, meanwhile, had fallen down the pecking order at Arsenal, spending the past two seasons on loan with Atletico Madrid and Fiorentina. He has signed a four-year contract.

Capped 39 times by Uruguay, the midfielder will be aiming to represent the South Americans in Qatar – who sit in Group H with Ghana, Portugal and South Korea.

Frank Lampard revealed Everton are "very close" to finalising the signing of Lille midfielder Amadou Onana, as he predicted the Belgium international will have a "big impact" at the club.

Everton suffered a frustrating 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in their Premier League opener on Saturday, with Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina sustaining injuries just three days after Dominic Calvert-Lewin was ruled out for up to six weeks. 

But Toffees supporters are set to receive some positive news after Onana travelled to Merseyside to finalise a transfer reportedly worth up to £33.7million (€40m), having made 43 appearances for Lille in all competitions last season.

And Lampard, who has already added James Tarkowski, Dwight McNeil and Ruben Vinagre to his squad since warding off the threat of relegation last season, expects big things from the towering midfielder. 

"I can talk about Onana because he's here today," Lampard told Sky Sports.

Asked what the 20-year-old will bring to the Toffees, Lampard added: "A lot, I'm a big fan, that's why he's coming. 

"When you come in as a manager you want to influence the team's style, the way that we play. [He's] a midfield player, a young player that has – for me – everything in terms of physicality, quality on the ball, energy, and defensive mindset; an all-rounder.

"For me, he has a big future and he's going to have a big impact on the club. He's a good lad, he's got a good confidence about him, so that's the way we want to go.

"I think he comes in at a really good age for us, I don't want to hang too much on him, it sounds like I'm building him up, but I'm very pleased that we're very close to doing that one."

Galatasaray have confirmed they are in transfer talks for both Dries Mertens and Lucas Torreira, with the Super Lig outfit plotting a double swoop.

Former Napoli forward Mertens is currently a free agent after leaving the Serie A outfit at the end of last season, while Arsenal midfielder Torreira is in the final year of his contract with at the Emirates Stadium.

Now, Galatasaray have confirmed they are in discussions to sign the duo, following reports they were interested in their services.

"Official negotiations have started with the player regarding the transfer of professional football player Dries Mertens to our club," they issued in a statement on Twitter.

"[Furthermore], negotiations have started with Arsenal regarding the transfer of Lucas Sebastian Torreira Di Pascua."

Mertens, a double Coppa Italia winner during his nine-year spell in Naples, was a member of the Belgium squad that came third at the Russia 2018 World Cup four years ago.

Despite being 35, he is yet to confirm his international retirement, and may hope to figure in the Red Devils' party for Qatar 2022 later this season.

Uruguay international Torreira meanwhile has spent the last two seasons away from Arsenal on loan, with Atletico Madrid - where he was a title winner in La Liga - and Fiorentina.

Milan have announced the signing of promising attacker Charles De Ketelaere from Club Brugge.

The 21-year-old Belgium international has signed a five-year-deal with the Serie A champions and joins for a reported fee of €36million.

De Ketelaere – who scored 18 goals in all competitions last season and has won eight senior caps for Belgium since his 2020 debut – had also been strongly linked with Premier League side Leeds United.

At 19 years and 224 days old in October 2020, he became the second-youngest Belgian to score in the Champions League (behind Anthony Vanden Borre) when he netted for Brugge against Zenit St Petersburg.

De Ketelaere will wear the number 90 shirt, and joins fellow new arrivals at San Siro Divock Origi, Alessandro Florenzi and Junior Messias, with the latter two making their loan moves from last season permanent.

Milan are confident of concluding a deal to sign promising Club Brugge forward Charles de Ketelaere, according to technical director Paolo Maldini.

Stefano Pioli's men are in the market for attacking reinforcements after winning their first Serie A title since 2010-11 last season, with Brugge duo Noa Lang and De Ketelaere both reported targets.

De Ketelaere, who scored 18 goals in all competitions last season and has won eight senior caps for Belgium since his 2020 debut, has been strongly linked to both the Rossoneri and Premier League side Leeds United.

Earlier this month, Brugge head coach Carl Hoefkens insisted the forward would only be allowed to leave "at the right time".

But Milan appear to be closing in on the 21-year-old's signature after Maldini joined Rossoneri director of football Frederic Massara in Belgium for negotiations, after which the legendary defender expressed his confidence a deal would be done.

Asked how talks were progressing by Tuttomercato, Maldini responded: "Good. There is confidence."

Pioli's men could be set to make two additions to their squad after Lille president Oliver Letang revealed midfielder Renato Sanches was likely to depart for either Milan or Paris Saint-Germain.

Atletico Madrid have announced the signing of Axel Witsel on a free transfer following his departure from Borussia Dortmund.

Witsel's BVB contract expired at the end of June after a four-year spell in Dortmund, and he has signed on for a single season at Atletico.

Atletico had reportedly been keen on Boubacar Kamara but are said to have shifted focus to Witsel after the 22-year-old joined Aston Villa.

Hector Herrera's departure to Houston Dynamo meant midfield reinforcements were a necessity for Diego Simeone.

And in 33-year-old Witsel he has added experience and ability, with the Belgium international playing an important role at Dortmund right until his exit.

Witsel made 29 Bundesliga appearances last season as Dortmund finished second to Bayern Munich, though it was long expected he would depart this year.

Simeone will hope Witsel adds much-needed grit to a midfield that was often unconvincing last term, as Atletico's title defence never really got going.

Spain will be the sixth country Witsel has played in during his distinguished career, having previously had spells in his native Belgium, Portugal, Russia, China and Germany.

Real Madrid will see a "totally different" Eden Hazard next season, according to Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, who says the winger is "obsessed" with succeeding at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Having joined Madrid in a blockbuster £103.5m deal in 2019, Hazard has struggled in Spain, making just 48 appearances in LaLiga for the club - 20 of which have come from the bench.

Hazard has only recorded 10 league goal involvements in that time (four goals, six assists), and was a virtual spectator as Carlo Ancelotti's men won LaLiga and the Champions League last season, starting just seven league games.

But the 31-year-old impressed for Belgium during the recent international break, and was adamant he will get back to the player he was after assisting Kevin De Bruyne's goal in a recent 6-1 win over Poland. 

Martinez agrees that prediction, and believes the winger's goal of winning the World Cup in Qatar this year will provide an additional motivation when he returns to Madrid.

"Eden Hazard is in the best period of his career," Martinez told radio programme El Larguero.

"I was surprised by the state of mind and physical condition he was in in June," he said. "Real Madrid fans are going to see a totally different Hazard.

"He is obsessed with succeeding at Real Madrid. He has not thought about changing his objective. He wants to win the World Cup."

Meanwhile, Martinez's own future as Belgium boss has been questioned in recent months, with the former Everton man failing to lead the Red Devils' so-called "golden generation" of stars to tournament glory since taking charge in 2016.

The 48-year-old recently said he will not discuss any prospective new contract with Belgium until after the World Cup, but has now refused to close the door to coaching the Spanish national team in the future.

"I'm always open to any project with real belief behind it," he said.

Belgium and Spain could potentially face off in the round of 16 in Qatar, with Martinez's men facing Canada, Morocco and Croatia in Group F and Luis Enrique's team drawn alongside Germany, Japan and Costa Rica in Group E.

Roberto Martinez said his future as Belgium head coach will only be discussed after the World Cup later this year, having watching his side beat Poland 1-0 in the Nations League.

Michy Batshuayi's first-half header helped Belgium to their second win of this Nations League campaign, although they still trail the Netherlands by three points in Group A4 after being thrashed 4-1 by Louis van Gaal's men in their opening game earlier this month.

Results such as that one, as well as Belgium's failure to lift a major trophy despite producing a supposed 'golden generation' of talent, have led to suggestions Martinez's job could be under threat.

But the former Everton manager will only entertain questions over his future after leading the Red Devils to the World Cup in Qatar.

"That will be the right decision [to discuss the future after the tournament]," he said. "Not for me as a coach, but for Belgian football. 

"Everyone can be sure, my only will and wish is that we will see Belgium as strong as possible at the World Cup.

"I want to make the fans as proud as possible. All my work will go into this in the coming months.

"We'll see after the World Cup. In international football, it is logical that you look at it from major tournament to major tournament. There is nothing strange about that."

Belgium will face Canada, Morocco and Croatia in Group F in Qatar, having finished third in Russia in 2018.

Martinez's team were comfortable for long periods against Poland, limiting their hosts to just two shots on target and only allowing Robert Lewandowski one attempt throughout the game.

But Belgium almost conceded a dramatic equaliser when Karol Swiderski twice went close in the dying stages, and Martinez was delighted with the character his team displayed when clinging on for the win.

The Red Devils have claimed seven points from their first four Nations League games this month, and the coach believes the matches have proven valuable as they build towards their trip to Qatar.

"We defended well and showed a lot of personality," Martinez said. "It is even more satisfying to win like this than [if] it was a simple victory. 

"These matches were used to gather information for the World Cup, and we got it. 

"The results weren't always good, but perfection doesn't exist. Not in football and not in life. The reaction after Wales [a 1-1 draw last week] was there. I remember that."

Michy Batshuayi's first-half goal helped Belgium to a 1-0 win over Poland, keeping the Red Devils in with a chance of reaching the Nations League Finals.

Less than a week after scoring five second-half goals in a 6-1 thrashing of Poland, Roberto Martinez's side were without several star names including Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku for the return fixture.

But Belgium were mostly comfortable after Batshuayi nodded them into an early lead, with Nicola Zalewski and Karol Swiderski squandering Poland's best chances to equalise.

Martinez's team trail the Netherlands by three points with two group-stage contests remaining, meaning the two rivals could be set for a straight shoot-out for qualification when they meet in September.

Wojciech Szczesny raced off his line to deny Thorgan Hazard early on, but he was helpless when Batshuayi headed Belgium into a 16th-minute lead, the Chelsea man stooping to divert Youri Tielemans' cross into bottom-right corner.

Sebastian Szymanski sent a wild volley over from a good position after half an hour, before Eden Hazard was flagged offside having beaten Szczesny with a deft chip after racing onto Batshuayi's pass.

Although Belgium dominated much of the opening period, Zalewski went agonisingly close to levelling shortly before the break when he volleyed Robert Lewandowski's right-wing cross narrowly wide.

Thorgan Hazard almost doubled Belgium's lead when he sent a low strike wide of the left-hand post after 52 minutes, before Jan Vertonghen saw a driven cross deflected just wide of the bottom-left corner.

Swiderski twice went close to a dramatic equaliser when he forced Simon Mignolet into an acrobatic save before clipping the post with a deft header, but Belgium held on for their second Nations League win of the campaign.

What does it mean? Belgium keep Netherlands in their sights

Having been thrashed 4-1 by the Netherlands during their Nations League opener earlier this month and dropped points in a 1-1 draw with Wales last week, Martinez's men needed a victory to stay in touch with their neighbours at the top of Group A4.

Having prevented Poland from mustering a shot on target until the 87th minute, Belgium deserved a victory which keeps them in with a chance of overhauling Louis van Gaal's men to qualify for next year's finals.

Brilliant Batshuayi maintains hot streak

While Batshuayi - who has been sent out on loan five times since joining Chelsea in 2016 - has struggled for consistency at club level, the Nations League is quickly becoming his favourite competition.

Batshuayi has now contributed to eight goals in the Nations League overall, a tally only bettered by Lukaku (11), and has registered two goals and two assists in his four appearances in the 2022-23 edition.  

Lacklustre Lewandowski struggles 

Despite missing several of their star players, Belgium produced a disciplined defensive performance to complete a double over Czeslaw Michniewicz's team, keeping Lewandowski's influence to a minimum.

The wantaway Bayern Munich man managed the joint-fewest touches of any player the pitch in the first half (13), and over the course of the match, attempted just one shot.

What's next?

Belgium's next outing is a home Nations League clash with Wales on September 22, while Poland host the Netherlands on the same day.

Roberto Martinez felt Belgium had two Nations League points taken away from them by the VAR after Brennan Johnson's late equaliser gave Wales a 1-1 draw.

Youri Tielemans' 50th-minute strike looked as though it would prove enough for Belgium, who were without Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku in Cardiff.

But Wales, who had an early Ethan Ampadu strike contentiously ruled out by the video assistant, were grateful to see Johnson's 86th-minute leveller allowed to stand despite the linesman initially flagging for offside.

Martinez, however, was left furious by the decision.

"I can't analyse this game until I get an explanation from someone about that goal against. It was a shocking decision," Martinez told VTM. 

"The assistant referee makes the right decision, but somehow the VAR makes it in his head to overrule. Those lines are not parallel.

"We should have won this match. They took two points away from us tonight, it was simply offside.

"My players don't deserve this, because we defended really well."

The stalemate meant Belgium failed to capitalise on the Netherlands' 2-2 draw with Poland in the other clash in Group A4.

Martinez's side remain three points behind the Netherlands with three games played.


 

Substitute Brennan Johnson struck late on to get Wales off the mark in the Nations League with their first point in a deserved 1-1 draw against Belgium.

The Red Devils have often struggled against Wales in recent times, namely at Euro 2016 when losing at the quarter-final stage, and they were again frustrated on Saturday.

Youri Tielemans' 50th-minute strike looked as though it would prove enough for Belgium, who were without the likes of Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku in Cardiff.

But Wales, who had an early Ethan Ampadu strike contentiously ruled out by VAR, equalised in the 86th minute through Johnson's effort to leave the visitors frustrated.

Belgium star Eden Hazard feels he is returning to his best after his side came from 1-0 down against Poland on Wednesday to storm home for a 6-1 Nations League win.

From the moment Robert Lewandowski put Poland ahead in the 28th minute, it would be all Belgium, controlling 60 per cent of the possession for the match while producing nine shots on target to zero in the second half.

Axel Witsel made it 1-1 before half-time, before the Red Devils' dynamic duo combined, with Hazard assisting Kevin De Bruyne to pull ahead 2-1.

The last 20 minutes was an attacking exhibition from the Belgians, with two goals to Leandro Trossard, one to Leander Dendoncker, before Lois Openda completed the rout in the 93rd minute.

Speaking to RTL Sport after the win, Hazard said consistent playing time will be the key to returning to his top form.

"I'm going back to being the player I was," he said. "I will become the player I was again by stringing together games, minutes. 

"In the team, there was no more desire than against the Netherlands, it's the score that is very different. 

"But it's true that after Friday's defeat, we talked to each other and made resolutions. But it remains between us, a secret.

"It's a great reaction from the team. We needed to answer after the defeat, it's done, I think a lot of people will sleep well – and me too."

Hazard also highlighted the depth of the Belgian squad, and that he hopes there will be some rotation in the starting-11.

"There are two matches left, we will go to Wales and Poland to win," he said. "I hope coach [Roberto] Martínez will consider that there are plenty of players who can play – not just 11 or 12 players. We really are a group"

While Hazard wants to see some fresh faces getting some run, Martinez made it clear that the Real Madrid man is not willing to be the one to take a seat – and that he is looking like his former self.

"When you see Eden Hazard walk into a room, you can see straight away if he is happy or not," he said. "And there it is clear: there is no more pain. 

"He was better today, his physical stats today are as good as they have been in the past. Hazard's idea is to be in all four games to give him the rhythm he needs."

Martinez was also full of praise of the combination of Trossard and Dendoncker, saying the future of Belgian football remains bright.

"There is a lot of satisfaction tonight, in many areas," he said. "Players have met expectations, such as Leandro Trossard or Leander Dendoncker in defence.

"Leandro Trossard, we have seen him grow over time. And he is one of the examples why Belgium should never worry about the talent there is in this country. For some, talent must take its time to develop.

"Hans Vanaken, Leandro Trossard have had a constant evolution since their arrival in the national team. Leandro must be inspired by boys like Eden Hazard to understand the 'gap' that can exist with the world's top, but he has come so far.

"Dendoncker, sometimes we don't give him enough credit because he is versatile, between a defender and a midfielder. But he never let the team down, defensively he was very alert.

"We saw that Dendoncker could project himself as a midfielder. It was Leander's most mature performance with the national team. There were a lot of games where he proved he could be trusted, and that was the case again tonight."

Belgium bounced back from their thumping by the Netherlands with an emphatic 6-1 Nations League win over Poland on Wednesday.

Roberto Martinez's side suffered a resounding 4-1 defeat to the Oranje on Friday, but a much-improved display at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels saw them return to winning ways in Group A4.

They fell behind to Robert Lewandowski's 28th-minute strike, yet pulled level before half-time thanks to Axel Witsel's superb effort from outside the penalty area.

Kevin De Bruyne then put them ahead after the interval, before a double from substitute Leandro Trossard, a long-range strike from Leander Dendoncker and a late sixth from Lois Openda put the seal on a convincing win.

Despite a bright start, Belgium fell behind shortly before the half-hour mark when Lewandowski controlled Sebastian Szymanski's pass before clipping past the onrushing Simon Mignolet.

However, the Red Devils pulled level three minutes before the interval, Witsel superbly whipping in from 20 yards after Bartlomiej Dragowski had kept out De Bruyne's close-range effort.

Dragowski made an excellent double stop after the break, first pawing away Dendoncker's header and then getting down well to repel Eden Hazard's drive. 

He was powerless to stop De Bruyne in the 59th minute, though, as the Manchester City man rolled past him after being played in by Hazard. 

Trossard made it three with a cool finish after cutting in from the right, before the Brighton and Hove Albion forward added a second with a looping strike from the edge of the penalty area. 

Dendoncker added a fifth with a sublime strike from 25 yards that flashed past Dragowksi, before substitute Openda wrapped up the scoring with almost the last kick of the game.

Belgium star Romelu Lukaku will miss the Nations League clash with Poland due to injury as Roberto Martinez implored his side to respond from defeat to Netherlands.

Martinez's side are ranked second in the world but were thoroughly outplayed on Friday as Netherlands cruised to a 4-1 victory.

Lukaku limped off in the first half with the scores level, before goals from Steven Bergwijn, Denzel Dumfries and Memphis Depay secured Netherlands' first win on Belgian turf since 1997.

Martinez assured the issue with Lukaku was simply "a knock" after the game, but Belgium confirmed on Monday that the Chelsea striker will be absent for the clash with Poland on Wednesday.

The Red Devils added Lukaku has started treatment, leaving it unclear whether he will be fit to feature for the remaining clashes in June against Wales and the reverse fixture with Poland.

While Martinez may be without his talisman as Belgium ramp up their World Cup preparations for Qatar, the Red Devils coach urged his team to respond against Poland.

"[The Netherlands defeat] reminded us of the level we have to reach for the World Cup," he told reporters.

"This type of tough game will help us improve. We don't like to lose but we'll learn. It's an ongoing process, and the next test will come quickly against Poland."

 

The defeat to Netherland was also the first time Belgium had lost on home soil against any side since September 2017, while it was the first time the Red Devils had conceded four goals at home since October 2010.

Poland visit Brussels in the next League A Group 4 fixture and coach Czeslaw Michniewicz expects Belgium to come out fighting for a response.

"The Netherlands [won 4-1 in] Belgium, but both teams could have scored more; the Belgians had a lot of chances, plenty of set-pieces," Michniewicz said.

"We will have an interesting meeting with a team that has many classy individuals. Belgium will be motivated after such a heavy defeat."

Page 1 of 10
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.