D-day for the Red Devils: all-or-nothing match against Croatia

After several turbulent days, the Red Devils face their all-or-nothing match against Croatia on the final day of play in Group F at the World Cup in Qatar on Thursday. After the 1-0 win against Canada and the painful 0-2 defeat against Morocco, the Devils need a win to still crack open the gates of the eighth finals against the vice-world champions.

The second round or the end of a cycle, the stakes are high at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium. "Do or die," is how national coach Roberto Martinez described the game earlier. "We have nothing left to lose, only to win."

The Devils are flirting with elimination after the defeat against Morocco. At a major tournament, it has been since EURO 2000 that the Devils were knocked out at the group stage, at a World Cup it has even been since 1998. Between 2002 and 2014, in the dark days of Belgian football, the Belgians failed to qualify for the final round of a major tournament.

Croatia will not be aiming for a draw , as any late goal and defeat could well see them eliminated. It is therefore expected that Croatia will try to catch the Devils in a controlled manner, and then aim for the counter-attack. The key for the game lies in midfield, which includes the trio Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic. If they do not get to play, the team will struggle.

It will be the ninth game between the Devils and the Balkanboys. Again, the country's hopes rest on Romelu Lukaku shoulders. In 2013, World Cup qualification was enforced in Zagreb. Final score: 1-2, two goals from Lukaku. Three times the win went to Croatia, for the last time in 2010.


Belgium's Youri Tielemans, Belgium's Timothy Castagne, Belgium's Leandro Trossard and Belgium's Leander Dendoncker pictured during a press conference of the Belgian national soccer team the Red Devils, at the Qatar National Convention Center QNCC, in Doha, State of Qatar, Wednesday 30 November 2022. © BELGA PHOTO VIRGINIE LEFOUR


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