This tournament has been touted as the golden generation of Belgium’s last chance to fulfil their potential. The likes of Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Mousa Dembele, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, and Dries Mertens are all around the prime of their footballing careers, and a fair few of them will be past their best in four years time.
Their problem certainly doesn’t lie in the talent available to them. They have one of the finest collections of players to grace this World Cup, but issues behind the scenes and an apparent lack of teamwork have held them back so far.
It seemed that the problem was continuing against World Cup debutants Panama on Monday as well, with the slow and languid approach to the game resulting in a goalless first half. Fortunately for The Red Devils, that seemed to change after the break, and it was a stunning volley from Dries Mertens that proved the catalyst.
Romelu Lukaku built on this with two more impressive goals later on in the half to win that match 3-0, but Belgium need to start working on the pace of their attacking play if they want to do well in this tournament. Their form certainly looks optimistic for the tournament though. They haven’t lost a game since Robert Martinez’ first match in charge back in September 2016, winning 15 of their 20 games since.
It’s undoubtedly a Belgium side studded with quality, but Lukaku is the man of the moment right now. The Mancheter United striker has now scored 15 goals in his last 11 Belgium appearances, so backing him to get on the scoresheet here could prove fruitful.
Tunisia will be rightly worried about their chances on Saturday. They may have only lost to England because of a very late Harry Kane goal, but in all honesty they could have been dead and buried long before that. England spurned a number of clear chances in the first half and there were two clear penalty shouts. If they play that poorly against the likes of Hazard, Lukaku, and Mertens you would expect them to fare much worse.
All things considered I think we’ll see a comfortable Belgium win here. They scored a huge 43 goals in their ten World Cup qualifying games and have won by at least a two goal margin in 11 of their last 20 matches. This makes a Belgium -1.5 Asian Handicap win look a great bet here, and with 15 of those games seeing at least three goals we also like the look of a Belgium Win and Over 2.5 Goals along with a 3-0 correct score predictions.
What we need to win this bet: For a -1.5 Asian Handicap we need Belgium to win by at least a two goal margin.
Belgium Predicted Lineup: Courtois, Alderweireld, Boyata, Vertonghen, Meunier, Carrasco, Witsel, De Bruyne, Hazard, Mertens, Lukaku
Tunisia Predicted Lineup: Ben Mustapha, Bronn, Ben Youssef, Menah, Maaloul, Skhiri, Sassi, Badri, Ben Youssef, Sliti, Khazri
Belgium and Tunisia have met each other three times before, with both sides taking a win, a draw, and a loss. The only meeting in competitive football was in the group stages of the 2002 World Cup, which saw both teams take a point.
Belgium are unbeaten in their three previous World Cup games against African opponents, with a draw against Tunisia in 2002 the only game they failed to win.
Belgium are unbeaten in their last 10 World Cup group games, winning the last five in a row (W5 D5 L0).
Each of Belgium’s last 11 World Cup goals have come after half-time.
Tunisia are winless in their last 12 World Cup matches (D4 L8), since beating Mexico in their first ever match in the competition (3-1 in 1978).
The last team to have a longer winless run in the World Cup than Tunisia’s current run of 12 was South Korea (14 games between 1954 and 1998).
Tunisia have scored with their only shot on target so far at this World Cup.
Only Jan Ceulemans (6) has scored more goals in major tournaments for Belgium (World Cup and European Championships) than Romelu Lukaku (5, level with Marc Wilmots).
Roberto Martinez is unlikely to make any changes to the team that beat Panama, with Romelu Lukaku leading the line after a brace against the Central Americans. Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, and Thomas Meunier are all carrying yellow cards though. Vincent Kompany remains injured.
Tunisia are expected to line up almost the same as they did against England, with Whabi Khazri, Naim Sliti, and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef providing the attacking threat. The only difference will be their goalkeeper, with Mouez Hassen getting injured against England and expected to be replaced by Farouk Ben Mustapha.