Preview: Belgium vs. Egypt

Preview: Belgium vs. Egypt

Belgium will conclude their preparations for the 2022 World Cup with a friendly encounter against Egypt in Kuwait on Friday.

The Red Devils will head to Qatar ranked second in the world by FIFA, while the Pharaohs are further back in 39th and will be watching this year’s tournament from home.

Four years on from their third-place finish at the World Cup in Russia – their best-ever result at the tournament – Belgium head to Qatar hoping to go all the way for what could be the last-chance saloon for their golden generation to win their first-ever major trophy.

The Red Devils breezed through UEFA qualifying with six victories and two draws, but Roberto Martinez’s men have since experienced a mixed set of results in 2022, winning four, drawing two and losing two of their eight fixtures.

Indeed, both defeats came at the hands of Netherlands in the Nations League, including a narrow 1-0 away defeat in their most recent game at the end of September.

Belgium will be keen to return to winning ways against Egypt before taking on Canada, Morocco and Croatia in Group F of the World Cup, with an opening fixture against the former next Wednesday.

Although Friday’s contest is taking place at a neutral venue, Belgium have won only one of their last six internationals away from home.

However, they did secure a routine 3-0 victory in their last meeting against Egypt in June 2018, with Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard – two key players who are sure to use the upcoming fixture to build up much-needed match fitness – among the scorers along with former international Marouane Fellaini.

After featuring at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Egypt were unable to qualify for this year’s tournament in Qatar as they were eliminated by Senegal in a third-round playoff final.

The Pharaohs had initially finished top of their CAF qualification group, but in a repeat of the Africa Cup of Nations final just over a month prior, the Pharaohs were beaten on penalties by Senegal, forcing Mohamed Salah and co to watch the world’s biggest international tournament from home.

A change of manager over the summer saw Ehab Galal sacked after just three games in charge, with the Egyptian replaced by former Benfica boss Rui Vitoria who is experiencing his first role on the international scene.

The 52-year-old has made a bright start to his rein, with Egypt securing back-to-back 3-0 home wins in friendly fixtures against Niger and Liberia during September’s international break.

Egypt will now test their mettle against a European nation for the first time since facing 2018 World Cup hosts Russia in the group stage almost exactly four years ago when they take on Belgium on Friday.

Belgium form (all competitions):
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Egypt form (all competitions):
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We say: Belgium 3-1 Egypt
The outcome of Friday’s contest will likely depend on the strength of Belgium’s lineup, but even if the Red Devils do decide to heavily rotate throughout the 90 minutes, they will still be considered favourites to come out on top.

Belgium will be wary of the threat that Salah is set to pose, but Martinez’s men should have few problems in securing a routine win in Kuwait.

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