Wales and Belgium renew rivalry with Nations League clash in Cardiff

Belgium's Arthur Theate (left) is challenged by Aaron Ramsey (centre) and Daniel James of Wales
Wales and Belgium drew 1-1 when they last met in a World Cup qualifier in November 2021
Nations League: Wales v Belgium
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium Date: Saturday, 11 June Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Sport website and app, plus live text online. Highlights on BBC One Wales from 22:20 BST and later on demand

Wales will be targeting their first points of this Nations League campaign when they renew their rivalry with Belgium in Cardiff on Saturday.

Wales have lost both their Group A4 matches to Poland and the Netherlands.

Belgium, ranked second in the world, responded to a 4-1 home defeat by the Dutch with a 6-1 thrashing of Poland.

Having lost only once to Belgium in six meetings over the past nine years, Wales will hope to cause another upset at Cardiff City Stadium.

“We don’t fear anybody. We’re at this level because we’ve earned the right to be at this level,” said Wales manager Robert Page.

“We respect them as a team and a nation, and the manager [Roberto Martinez] is outstanding and what he’s done is brilliant. I don’t think he’ll ever go away from his beliefs, how he wants to play.

“Irrespective of what the starting XI is, we’re expecting a tough challenge and similar principles to what he’s always had.

“It will make for an entertaining game and a tough game for us – but we’ll be ready.”

‘Arriving at a World Cup, nothing can prepare you for that’ – Martinez

Wales have rotated their squad so far in this Nations League campaign, with their two 2-1 defeats coming either side of last Sunday’s momentous World Cup play-off final win over Ukraine.

Page is using Nations League matches as an opportunity to test his younger and fringe players against elite opposition, and their performances against Poland and the Netherlands have offered encouragement.

With the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Neco Williams rested for Wednesday’s home defeat against the Dutch, it might be that Wales’ team to face Belgium looks a little more like a full-strength line-up.

Striker Kieffer Moore (back), midfielder Joe Morrell (broken toe) and goalkeeper Danny Ward (knee) are out injured.

However, fellow keeper Wayne Hennessey has been passed fit having missed the Netherlands defeat.

Leandro Trossard (centre) celebrates a goal
Brighton’s Leandro Trossard (centre) scored twice as Belgium hammered Poland 6-1 on Wednesday

Belgium will be without Romelu Lukaku after the Chelsea striker was injured during their opening defeat against the Netherlands on 3 June.

“Going into this next one, Wales are going into their fourth game of this camp and we’re going into our third. We’re expecting to see the two strongest squads go head-to-head,” Belgium manager Martinez told BBC Sport Wales.

“We’ll have a bit of an opportunity to share the efforts, to see what the strength is a little bit underneath [the first team] and learn some important lessons for Robert and myself before we make decisions about the final squads for the World Cup.

“You always want to win but the focus in this one is more trying to get strong lessons out of the performances, so we get the right final 26 for the World Cup.”

Match facts

  • Wales’ most recent win against Belgium was a 3-1 victory in their Euro 2016 quarter-final.
  • Belgium have won just two of their seven away games against Wales in all competitions, with those victories coming in March 1997 (2-1) and September 2012 (2-0).
  • Defeat against the Netherlands on Wednesday ended a 19-match unbeaten run for Wales at home.
  • Belgium have played more games in Nations League history without any ending in a draw than any other side, winning nine and losing five.
  • Wales have lost two of their last three games in all competitions, as many as in their previous 14.
  • Belgium have scored in each of their last 46 games since a 1-0 World Cup semi-final defeat to France in 2018.
  • Against no side has Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne scored more international goals than he has against Wales, netting three times in seven appearances.

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